In a move to recognise the inherent value of nature, all major infrastructure projects in the UK will soon need to deliver net-positive benefits for the environment.
The government is introducing the legislation in response to a landmark review of 'natural capital'. Natural capital is the combined value of the natural assets that sustain life — air, water, soils, plants, animals and minerals.
The Dasgupta Review was commissioned by the UK Treasury in 2019 and looks at how nature's value is accounted for (or not) within existing economic frameworks. The 600-page report found that due to a lack of recognition or measurement, the earth's natural capital is being depleted at an alarming rate.
"Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognising that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of nature's goods and services with its capacity to supply them. It also means accounting fully for the impact of our interactions with nature," the Review's author, Sir Partha Dasgupta, told The Guardian.
The UK government has published an official response to the report, agreeing with its central claims and committing to a 'nature positive' future.
"The Government agrees with the Dasgupta Review's fundamental conclusion: nature, and the biodiversity that underpins it, ultimately sustains our economies, livelihoods and well-being, and so our decisions must take into account the true value of the goods and services we derive from it," the document reads.
"In response to the Review, the Government commits to: (1) delivering a 'nature positive' future, in which we leave the environment in a better state than we found it, and reverse biodiversity loss globally by 2030; and (2) ensuring economic and financial decision-making, and the systems and institutions that underpin it, supports the delivery of that nature positive future."
One way this future will be realised is through new infrastructure projects. In its response to the Review, the government committed to introducing legislation that requires nationally significant infrastructure projects to demonstrate biodiversity net gain. This means major projects, such as national energy or transport schemes, will need to leave the environment better than they found it.
Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.