According to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, the UK’s famed policy of green belts that control urban sprawl will be questioned and revised, in response to the need for development. Secretary Paterson stated to the BBC’s Radio Four, in November, that: “[o]ur planning reforms are clear – that we want to see sustainable growth, but we are clear that we cannot freeze the country in aspic”.
This statement coincides with the announcement of the “Nature Check 2013”, an annual review of the UK Government’s environmental performance. The Nature Check is championed by 41 leading environmental NGOs, including WWF UK, Greenpeace, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, the Wildlife Trusts, Marine Life and IFAW. The report highlights major environmental policy shortfalls by the Government of David Cameron.
According to the NGOs: “the Government's delivery for the natural environment over the last year has remained static - there has been no step change in leadership or delivery.
We know that nature is in crisis. The evidence shows us long and short-term declines in our wildlife and natural places, which translates into a crisis for people too, because the environment is the foundation of our lives and livelihoods. It is a source of great joy and fulfilment for many millions of people across the country, and we must therefore work together to conserve the environment for future generations, secure a sustainable economy and meet our international commitments.”
At the launch event of Nature Check 2013, Secretary Paterson defended the Government’s policies and remarked that he remains “convinced that we can only improve the environment if we have a growing, prosperous economy. In China and a host of other countries, where per capita income is increasing as a result of continuous economic growth, people are taking an interest in their environment for the first time, resulting in more trees being planted.”