£80 million fund for green jobs and new national parks to kick start green recovery

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  • Doubling the funding for the Green Recovery Challenge Fund to create and retain thousands of green jobs across England
  • New national parks and greater protections for England’s iconic landscapes to improve access to nature and better protect the country’s rich wildlife and biodiversity
  • Chairs of England’s three environmental bodies welcome measures set out by the Prime Minister

Plans to help kickstart the nation’s green recovery have been unveiled today (18 November), including the expansion of protected landscapes, increased access to nature, stronger flood resilience, and the creation and retention of thousands of green jobs.

The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan also confirms new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will be created, as well as 10 Landscape Recovery projects. These initiatives take us closer to protecting 30% of UK land by 2030, extending protections by 1.5% in England towards our goal of an additional area of over 400,000ha and restoring the equivalent of over 30,000 football pitches of wildlife rich habitat.

In 2021 government will start the formal process of designation of the new National Parks and AONBs which will involve identifying the best candidates. This will look at how new sites contribute to our wider goals for nature, beauty, heritage and people.

A new £40 million additional investment into the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund has also been confirmed for creating and retaining thousands of green jobs in areas including tree planting, environmental education and the restoration of damaged habitats, such as peatlands and wetlands. The successful projects from the first funding round will be announced in the coming weeks.

£5.2 billion for flood defences will also help the country adapt to a changing climate, with an increased focus on nature-based solutions highlighted in the recent flood strategy.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

We are committed to driving forward a green revolution as we build back better and greener from the pandemic, and the Ten Point Plan provides a crucial vehicle to help us shape a cleaner and more resilient society.

Our Green Recovery Challenge Fund received an overwhelming response, and this additional funding will help support even more environmental projects to help tackle the nature and climate crisis.

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:

It is essential that we place nature recovery at the heart of national recovery and the Prime Minister’s ambitious plan to do just that is very welcome indeed. Investing in large-scale Landscape Recovery projects, creating more protected areas and employing hundreds more people to restore the natural environment will support the flourishing new Nature Recovery Network that we and others are driving forward across the length and breadth of the country.

A healthy natural environment is not only important for wildlife but also for the health of society and our economy. By investing in nature we can reap rich returns, for example in public health and wellbeing, catching carbon from the air, helping us adapt to the changing climate, ensuring supplies of clean water, boosting tourism and protecting our future food security.

While the government takes action to accelerate the achievement of net zero, it is crucial that steps are taken to adapt to the evident impacts of climate change. Investment into flood defences will protect homes, businesses and essential services from the disruption and economic impact caused by flooding.

The government is committed to building a nation better protected and more resilient to flooding, earlier this year announcing a record £5.2 billion investment for flood and coastal defences to deliver around 2,000 flood schemes and better protect 336,000 properties. It has also set out a comprehensive long-term plan to tackle flooding and coastal erosion, while the Environment Agency is implementing its new Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy to create a nation resilient to the effects of climate change.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:

The climate crisis is the biggest threat to the global economy so extra funding to train people with vital STEM skills will provide sustainable employment and keep the UK economy competitive. The government’s commitments today help boost a green recovery from coronavirus.

The country’s new Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy provides a long-term vision for improving the nation’s resilience to the impacts of climate change. Implementing that vision, accelerating efforts to reach net zero, and achieving the 25 Year Environment Plan goals for nature will show the world at COP26 that the UK is taking climate action at home.

Speaking of the opportunities that the Green Recovery Challenge Fund presents, Sir William Worsley, Chair of the Forestry Commission, said:

I welcome the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and look forward to working with our partners as we drive forward the nation’s green recovery.

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund will support projects that will create much-needed green jobs in the environmental and forestry sectors, and will help deliver government’s ambitious tree planting and net zero commitments.

Through these initiatives, we are committed to ensuring the right trees are planted in the right places, for the right reasons – be that carbon capture; homes for wildlife, tree planting near rivers to protect land and property from flooding; or providing timber, fuel and energy for business and communities.

At the start of the year, Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Forestry Commission set out their shared vision and pledged to work together to deliver nature-based solutions to climate change, helping the government meet its ambition to reach net zero by 2050 and in the run up to the international COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year.

The government’s flagship Environment Bill puts the environment at the centre of policy making to ensure that we have a cleaner, greener and more resilient country for the next generation.

The Landscape Recovery projects will be established over the next four years through the government’s Environmental Land Management scheme, which will be centred around support aimed at incentivising sustainable farming practices, creating habitats for nature recovery and supporting the establishment of new woodland and other ecosystem services to help tackle challenges like climate change. This follows the landmark Agriculture Bill passing into law last week.

Alongside the measures set out in this plan, the government’s future farming and countryside programme will continue to develop plans and schemes which will support the delivery of our environmental commitments and goals. Further detail will be available in November.

The government is committed to increasing tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares of trees a year by 2025. Our £640 million Nature for Climate fund will help us increase planting in England, alongside peatland restoration and nature recovery.

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