21 Mar Containment News March 2016: ‘Lacklustre Direction for Environmental Targets’
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‘Lacklustre Direction for Environmental Targets’
The recipe for success when setting goals and targets walks the fine line between making them a worthwhile challenge and realistically achievable. Christopher weighs 192 kilograms, after repeated warnings from his doctor he has set himself the target of losing 8 kilograms by the year 2021. Impressed? Do you feel motivated and inspired by that? If the answer is no, then you will probably feel the same way about the Government’s target for the UK’s water bodies recently announced by the Environment Agency.
Currently, only 17% of the UK’s rivers and lakes are at good health. The new targets show that by 2021 it intends only 21% to be healthy. This lowly ambition does not even get them back to where they were in 2009 when 26% were at good health. Dominic Gogol, Water Policy Manager, WWF-UK, said: “By publishing such woefully unambitious plans, Ministers have squandered a huge opportunity. The government’s own data shows that getting three quarters of rivers, lakes and wetlands to good health would boost the economy by £8.5 billion. If the government continues at this snail’s pace, it will take nearly a century to get most of our rivers healthy. This will be devastating for both the people and wildlife that rely on these special places.”
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive, The Angling Trust & Fish Legal, said: “While these plans set out clearly the range and scale of the issues affecting rivers across the country, such as farm pollution, key effective solutions to tackle them are absent. The government must now assess the use of targeted local regulations to make sure our most precious rivers and wetlands are protected and restored for the benefit of fish, wildlife, people and the rural economy.”
I’ve never made any secret of my admiration for the work of the UK’s environment agencies, the vast majority of officers I have met have been dedicated, with a genuine love for nature and a deep pride in making a difference so this is not a criticism of them. It’s the bean-counters who see everything as a profit and loss spreadsheet report, if it doesn’t make or save money today it can’t be factored in, there is no input column for preventative or educational work. So rather than look at the long term gains it’s much easier for the Government to have its emergency and environmental services trimmed to the bone and converted into reactionary forces, paying from ‘emergency funds’ when required rather than upfront preventative spending. Anyone who has ignored a tiny, easily repairable chip on a windscreen and then had to pay for a brand new windscreen will know that the government’s strategy is seriously flawed.
The renaissance genius Michelangelo could well have been speaking about the future management of the UK’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters when he said “the greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
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