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Liberal Democrats

F10: Natural Environment Policy

Submitted by 16 members

Mover: Richard Benwell | Summator: Baronness Parminter

This motion applies to   


A strong, fair society depends on a new approach to environmental protection.

Social divides are worsened by environmental inequality: polluted air, flood risk and lack of green places all affect the poorest, most vulnerable people most. Economic prospects are jeopardised by a focus on short term goals: resources are asset-stripped, soils are drained of nutrients, and water is polluted and over-abstracted. The habitats and species we enjoy today may not be around for future generations to appreciate.

We can no longer afford to treat our environment as free and invincible.

By contrast, investing in nature and accounting for its value across Government can save billions of pounds, and improve efficiency and sustainability in business as well as save and enhance lives.

All this was true before Brexit, but leaving the EU would multiply the risks to our environment. Our most effective environmental laws come from Europe. This motion proposes a new approach. Instead of staving off environmental losses, we take a positive approach to environmental improvement and investment.

It mandates Federal Policy Committee to develop these ideas further.

Full text of the motion:

Conference notes with concern:

  1. The poor state of the UK's natural environment - including biodiversity, air quality, soil quality and water quality - and its repercussions for a sustainable economy and for human health and wellbeing.
  2. Growing environmental risks and pressures, including: regulatory risks associated with Brexit, deregulation and austerity; and direct risks from land-use change, climate change, invasive species and development.
  3. The inadequacy of investment in the natural environment to tackle the problem, both in the countryside and in towns and cities, resulting from a failure across government departments to incorporate environmental objectives in decision-making and spending.
  4. That the majority of the UK's environmental law and policy derives from the European Union, as well as many of the institutions that provide expertise and oversight. There would be serious environmental risks if we leave the European Union.

Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to:

  1. The principles of good environmental governance as a benchmark for rational decision-making across government, including: sustainable development; the polluter pays principle; the precautionary principle; and the preventive principle.
  2. A natural capital approach, focused on net gain in natural wealth for present and future generations, guiding ecologically rational investment and markets that deal efficiently with environmental externalities.
  3. Access to a thriving natural environment for everyone, across town and countryside, regardless of social, economic or ethnic background, now and in the future.
  4. A Nature Act, setting legally binding targets, including for: biodiversity, clean air and water.

Conference calls on government to:

  1. Set out clear, long-term, measurable environmental objectives that apply across all government departments and in relevant policy areas, including trade negotiations. These objectives should be established as part of a long-term environment plan, with a commitment to legislation in due course.
  2. Make achievement of environmental objectives a guiding principle in major investment decisions, including:
    1. Incorporating green infrastructure in the remit of the National Infrastructure Commission; and strengthening planning rules for delivery of key green infrastructure assets, such as sustainable drainage, zero-carbon homes, and access to quality natural greenspace.
    2. Replacing the Common Agricultural Policy with a sustainable land management policy, which would target public and private money to reward farmers and land managers who invest in natural capital, as well as supporting the sustainable production of high quality food.
    3. Humane treatment of farm livestock (as per the European Convention for the Protecton of Animals kept for Farming Purposes) and consideration for endangered species (as per CITES).
  3. Improve public and Parliamentary reporting and accountability for protecting and enhancing our natural environment by:
    1. Annually reporting to both Houses of Parliament on the condition of the UKÕs natural environment alongside the Budget Statement.
    2. Seeking full cooperation with European Union environmental institutions, such as the European Environment Agency and the European Chemicals Agency.
    3. Developing new requirements for corporate natural capital valuation, accounting and public reporting.
    4. Creating new domestic institutions, including a new Office for Environmental Responsibility, to replace and improve on the access to and delivery of environmental justice currently provided by the European Commission and the European Court of Justice.

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