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Liberal Democrats

F22: The Natural Environment

Submitted by: Federal Policy Committee.
Mover: Tim Farron MP (Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).
Summation: Richard Benwell (Chair of the Policy Working Group).


Conferences notes that:

  1. Nature is in decline locally, nationally and internationally.
  2. Continued government failure to reverse the decline of nature is harming health and wellbeing, weakening our economy, and leaves the future of many species and habitats in doubt. It is socially unjust, economically foolhardy, and environmentally irresponsible.
  3. It will be impossible to mitigate and adapt to climate change and go to net zero and beyond without restoring our natural world.
  4. Urgent action is needed across every area of Government policy to address the twin ecological and climate emergency and create a nature-positive society.

Conference recognises that the ecological emergency is one of the greatest threats to life on Earth, and to people's health, wellbeing and prosperity, and without urgent and effective action domestically and internationally nature and human life will be put in serious jeopardy.

Conference therefore endorses policy paper 147, The Natural Environment, and its proposals to:

  1. Introduce a statutory 'Right to Nature', establishing everyone's human right to a healthy environment - healthy air, clean water and access to nature.
  2. Stop the decline of nature by 2030 at the latest and 'double nature' in England by 2050 by:
    1. Doubling the area of the most important wildlife habitats across England.
    2. Doubling the area of land that is effectively protected and managed for nature.
    3. Doubling the abundance of species in the UK from the current baseline.
  3. Reduce the UK's environmental impact globally by:
    1. Mandating disclosure of impacts on nature in major financial and business sectors.
    2. Upholding the highest environmental standards in our trade deals.
    3. Aiming to reconnect with the European Union across a range of programmes, including the REACH system of chemicals management.

Conference resolves to make environmental improvement a guiding principle across Government, and all major sectors, including with the following measures laid out in the policy paper:

  1. Manage our land for nature, with strong regulation and a long-term funding guarantee of public money for public goods in agriculture, based on environmental needs.
  2. Manage our seas for nature by rewarding the most sustainable fisheries and ensuring that 30% of our waters are fully or highly protected by 2030.
  3. Manage rivers and streams for nature by:
    1. Mandating major sewage infrastructure upgrades, implementing catchment budgets, and reducing agricultural pollution
    2. Setting new 'blue flag' standard for rivers, streams and lakes to ensure clean, healthy water and introduce a 'blue corridor' programme to make our rivers and streams accessible and healthy for wildlife and people.
  4. Manage markets for nature by establishing a new Office for Environmental Integrity to set standards to ensure all markets work for nature and climate, and eliminating greenwash.
  5. Manage our planning system for nature by requiring plans and decisions to be compatible with nature's recovery and climate change mitigation, and designating more areas for wildlife.
  6. Manage our economy for nature by delivering an Environment and Wellbeing Budget alongside the traditional budget, focused on ensuring we are a country that is rich in nature.
  7. Tackle the Climate Emergency by:
    1. Protecting the UK's most important carbon store with a complete ban on horticultural peat use, ending damaging rotational heather burning on peatlands, and restoring the peatlands that have been damaged.
    2. Doubling woodland cover by 2050.
    3. Retrofitting inner city areas to ensure that canals and waterways are up to scratch, urban green spaces are accessible and in good condition, and that natural solutions to drainage and flooding are in place across the country.
    4. Ensuring that a portion of funds from offshore infrastructure development is dedicated to the creation and restoration of coastal and oceanic habitats.

Applicability: England only; except iii), 4. and 6., which are Federal.


Mover and summation: 16 minutes combined; movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes. For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 9 of the agenda.

The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00 Monday 5 September, see page 12 of the agenda. Those selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Saturday's Conference Daily. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 on Saturday 17 September, see pages 8-9 of the agenda.

In addition to speeches from the platform, voting members will be able to make concise (maximum one minute) interventions from the floor during the debate on the motion. See pages 8 and 10 of the agenda.