We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape our relationship with our land, our rivers and our seas. By delivering a Green Brexit we can reform how we manage agriculture and fisheries, and how we protect our natural environment.
I want Britain to be a global champion for sustainable development, a world leader in environmental science, and a setter of gold standards in protecting and growing natural capital.
That is my Department’s driving ambition – and it should be central in the next five years of our national mission.
The first step is our 25-year Environment Plan – setting out how we manage our natural assets to create a lasting legacy for future generations. Laying the ground for this, I have asked the Natural Capital Committee’s advice on what the plan should aim to achieve, where improvements are most urgent and where the benefits are greatest.
This work will help shape the upcoming Agriculture and Fisheries Bills and how we use public money to reward environmentally-responsible practices. These bills will provide stability for farmers as we leave the EU and make sure we can continue to protect and enhance our environment and, as an independent coastal state, do more with conservation.
The Common Agricultural Policy will be replaced. Our new agricultural policy will recognise the importance of improving production as well as protecting our strong food and animal welfare standards and it will ensure farmers are rewarded for providing environmental goods – whether that’s protecting or enhancing habitats for biodiversity or planting more trees to combat soil erosion.
We will also no longer be wedded to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The CFP has encouraged fishing at a rate more than 50% above scientific advice. Our new approach will put the best interests of UK fishermen at its heart along with the highest standards of marine conservation.
In reshaping both of these policies, our central aim is the enhancement of our environment. Building on existing European standards, we can make Britain a global leader – creating, new institutions, mechanisms and gold standards for protecting our environment. We also have an opportunity to be global leaders in the fight against climate change, the struggle against the illegal wildlife trade and in the promotion and enhancement of animal welfare.
I hope that in years to come people can look back and say our generation lived up to the challenge and handed on a greener, cleaner, better, richer planet to the next generation.