01:28PM, Tuesday 13 February 2018
Michael Gove has demonstrated just how much one can achieve for the environment with a bit of grit and determination.
Indeed this may well go down in history as the most environmentally friendly and active Government in post-war history.
In the last eight months we’ve seen an environmental policy blitz: increased sentences for animal abusers, mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses, increased tax on diesel cars, banned harmful pesticides and microbeads, and made the sale of ivory illegal.
Far from seeking to extricate ourselves from the EU’s existing corpus of environmental law, it is good to know that we are actually broadening it by extending the recognition of animal sentience and removing exemptions from the plastic bag tax. Indeed, Brexit actually opens up opportunities to improve the environment in ways that we could not do so as members of the EU, such as banning live exports.
Brexit is an opportunity for improving the environment.
When it comes to plastics it is good to see our Government both encouraging recycling and cutting down on plastic use where possible.
Over the last 10 years the proportion of plastic packaging recycling rates has leaped from 46 per cent to 60 per cent.
The Government has set an ambitious target to increase the rate of recycling to 75 per cent by 2020, but that is still 25 per cent below where we want to be.
We are already extending the Plastic Bag Tax and requiring producers of packaging will have to ensure that a proportion of what they handle is recovered and recycled: both increasing recycling and incentivising businesses to use less plastic.
Our 25-year environmental plan will build on this by eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042, encouraging supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles, injecting new funding into plastics innovation and exploring whether to replicate the wild success of the plastic bag tax with a charge on single use plastic items.
And, as John F Kennedy once said, ‘we all breathe the same air’. Environmental issues cross national borders, so we will commit to helping developing nations solve their own plastic waste issues through UK development aid.
As I have said before, Conservatives are natural environmentalists and our record in this area has made our country’s animals safer, our air clearer and our fields and seas more pristine.
This Conservative Government is most definitely, in David Cameron’s words, ‘the greenest government ever
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