#WorldEnvironmentDay: How landowners can build our sustainable future


CLA Senior Land Use Policy Adviser Harry Greenfield talks about #WorldEnvironmentDay and the importance of the Agriculture and Environment Bill post-Brexit.

Earlier this week we celebrated World Environment Day, a day intended to raise public awareness of environmental issues. In some ways, this seems less necessary than in years gone by, with the environment, climate change and plastic pollution steadily rising up the political agenda and presenting at the front of public consciousness.

Increased environmental awareness may be one reason for greater government focus, but a more immediate factor is the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. This has created an additional sense of urgency around how we manage the natural environment in the future and precipitated new legislation as to how the UK prepares to take back control of large areas of policy.

As part of this, a new Environment Bill is expected in Parliament later this year (as the shifting timetable currently reads). The bill is expected to be large and ambitious - the vehicle through which the Government hopes to act on its ambition to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.

As well as a section on environmental principles and governance (moving across important functions from Brussels to Westminster and the devolved administrations) there will be chapters on nature, air quality, waste and resources, and water quality and management.

The CLA has been working with the Broadway Initiative, an alliance of industry and non-governmental groups, to ensure that the Government’s environmental ambition works for business. CLA President Tim Breitmeyer met with Chancellor Philip Hammond and Defra Secretary Michael Gove to set out what farmers and land managers would like to see in the Environment Bill.

At the core of this is a need for long-term policies and clear incentives to allow businesses the time to adapt to changes and take advantage of new opportunities. The Agriculture Bill and Environment Bill between them should set the framework through which farmers and land managers can help to play their part in achieving the ambition of an improved environment.

The UN’s World Environment Day website opens with the statement that “humans are both creatures and molders of their environment”. This highlights the symbiotic relationship that humans (and land managers in particular) have with the natural world – shaping it and being shaped by it. Landowners have a unique opportunity, as stewards of the natural environment, to shape it for the better and the CLA is putting pressure on the Government to support them to do this.