21 September 2020 by Stephen Russell
Ending Unequal Access To Nature And Green Space: Why The Environment Bill Matters - And What You Can Do About It
This month, we launched, ‘The grass isn’t greener for everyone: why access to green space matters’, our report highlighting how unequal access to nature is throughout the country. We found that people on low incomes and those who identify as being from a BAME background are less likely to have access to their own garden, and are less likely to have green space within a five-minute walk of their home. The Environment Bill gives us an opportunity to change this.
We can make this the most important piece of environmental legislation in a generation
We believe the Environment Bill is the most important piece of environmental legislation for a generation. It requires the government to set legally binding, long-term targets for air and water quality, biodiversity and waste. We support these provisions, but we also believe the Bill can go further by improving access to nature, connecting people to the natural world and creating places people love to walk in.
We know that there are inequalities in access to nature – not least because of our recent polling with YouGov – and legally binding targets to address this will help ensure a long-term focus on the issue and ultimately help more people benefit from walking in nature.
Currently, the Bill enables the government to set targets in respect of “people’s enjoyment of the natural environment”. Enabling targets to be set is very different to a requirement for the government to set them. Targets with legal underpinning help ensure long-term government support in policy-making and public spending decisions.
If public access – not just people’s enjoyment of nature – is not considered a priority area it will continue to fall by the wayside in terms of policy making. An example of this occurred just a few weeks ago in a DEFRA publication on its approach to target setting – it dealt with air, water, biodiversity and waste but was silent on people and access to the natural environment.
What we’re calling for and how you can help us…
The Environment Bill misses an opportunity when it comes to reconnecting people to nature. That’s why we’re calling on government introduce a requirement to set long-term, legally-binding targets that guarantee people’s access to nature and green space.
Contact your MP today and ask them to support our call for the government to guarantee that no one lives more than five minutes’ walk from green space, by requiring national targets for access to nature under the Environment Bill.
As we emerge from lockdown, this is an opportunity, not only to protect the environment and restore nature, but also to reconnect people to the natural world. Let’s persuade the Government to do the right thing.
WRITE TO YOUR MP NOW!