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The new Government & the environment

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This update analyses the main environmental and energy implications of the Conservative party having won the general election

The key pledges on the environment and energy are as follows:

• Climate change. The government will continue to support the Climate Change Act 2008 but will not support additional decarbonisation targets for the power sector. At the global talks that will take place in Paris in 2015, the government will push for an international climate change agreement with a goal of limiting global warming to two degrees.
• Nuclear power and gas. The government will encourage a significant expansion in new nuclear and gas power stations. It will ensure that local communities receive a share of the proceeds of shale gas projects. A sovereign wealth fund will be created for the north of England so that proceeds from exploiting its shale resources will be invested in those communities.
• Renewable energy. The government will provide start-up funding for promising new renewable technologies and research. Support will only be given to those technologies that represent value for money. Support for onshore wind farms will be ended and planning laws will be changed so that local communities will take the final decision on wind farm applications.
• Energy efficiency. The government aims to insulate a million more homes and to ensure all homes and businesses have smart meters by 2020.
• Waste. The government will consider introducing higher fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for littering and allow councils to deal with small-scale fly-tipping using FPNs rather than prosecutions.
• Transport. The government intends to invest £15 billion in roads. New roads and railways will be built in a way that limits their impact on the environment as far as possible. £300 million will be spent on cutting light pollution from new roads, building better noise barriers and restoring lost habitats.
• Zero emission vehicles. The government will invest £500 million so that almost all cars and vans will be zero emissions by 2050.
• Biodiversity. The government will extend the life of the Natural Capital Committee (NCC) until the end of the new Parliament and will work with it to develop a 25 Year Plan to restore the UK’s biodiversity.
• Marine habitats. A new “Blue Belt” to protect marine habitats will be created around the UK’s 14 overseas territories (for example, Bermuda and Gibraltar), subject to local support and environmental need. Around the UK coast, the government will complete the network of Marine Conservation Zones that is in the process of being created).
• Wildlife. Among other things, the government will oppose any resumption of commercial whaling and press for polar bears to be labelled an “endangered species” and for a ban on trading in their skins.
• Forests and woodland. The government will ensure that public forests and woodland are kept in trust for the nation. A further 11 million trees will be planted.
• Countryside. The government will spend £3 billion from the Common Agricultural Policy to enhance England’s countryside, including, cleaning rivers and lakes, protecting stonewalls and protecting bees.

On 11 May 2015, following the post-election re-shuffle of the Cabinet, the Cabinet Office announced:

• Amber Rudd MP has replaced Ed Davey as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
• The Rt Hon Liz Truss MP continues as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
• The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP has replaced the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.