Aerial photo over Isle of Lewis Michael Grant

Ocean suffers in UK Government's Plan for Growth

1 minute read

Sandy Luk - Billy Barraclough

Sandy Luk, CEO Marine Conservation Society

30 Sep 2022

The UK Government's recently announced 'Plan for Growth' puts our planet in danger.

We’re in the middle of interconnected ocean, nature and climate emergencies. The health of our ocean is critical in addressing these emergencies and supporting communities and ultimately, the economy.

The UK Government has cast itself as an international climate and ocean leader. Yet, its latest proposals could wipe out rafts of environmental and conservation regulations in England and quite possibly across the devolved nations. This could spell the collapse of nature, including our marine wildlife, at home - through damaging development and unregulated pollution.

What deregulation means for our seas

With other environmental organisations, we've been standing up against the UK Government’s #AttackOnNature. In response, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has reiterated its 'commitments to environmental protections' and the need for a strong environment for a strong economy.

Of course, it's true that a thriving economy is only possible if our natural environment, especially our ocean, is healthy. But with only two mentions of our country's blue spaces in their response, it's clear that ocean health isn't a top priority in the UK Government's 'Plan for Growth'. Instead, our seas face a long list of dangers, from damaging development and activities such as oil and gas drilling, to serious pollution from deregulated chemicals, sewage, plastics and agricultural run-off.

If this is rushed through in under a year, the new Retained EU Law Bill (REUL Bill) will be the most comprehensively damaging proposal for our ocean's health, with hundreds of critical environmental laws scrapped in a desperate dash for deregulation by the end of 2023.

Having UK Government departments scrambling around reviewing thousands of laws, to scrap or amend them, seems like a monumental waste of time when there are so many matters that demand their urgent attention.

Ocean priorities UK Government need to focus on

The UK Government should prioritise these important, concrete goals. It should slow down the process set out in the REUL Bill and take the time needed to ensure key laws are kept in place.

We need laws that enable us to protect, restore and invest in the ocean. Now.

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