Natural Capital Committee Publish Advice to Improve Natural Environment

The Natural Capital Committee (NCC) has published several documents providing advice to the government on how to improve the natural environment.

The NCC’s response to Defra’s commission for further information on environmental net gain outlines their views on key principles, metrics, trade-offs and net gain in the marine environment. The NCC stressed that habitat-based metrics often fail to recognise that many natural capital assets are spatially and context specific and operate at a number of scales, and so a natural capital focus would be better placed to deliver improvements.

In regards to trade-offs, the NCC said: “the priority placed on particular assets and benefits will depend in part on local circumstances and will be for local councils/communities/other decision makers to determine within an overall national framework.”

NCC also issued a response to the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan Progress Report. In their response, the NCC said the report fails to assess whether the environment has improved due to a lack of a baseline measure and reporting on actions instead of outcomes. The NCC issued a number of recommendations for improving the 25 Year Plan and progress reporting, including setting a number of statutory, quantitative targets for each high-level goal.

Another recommendation was to establish a comprehensive baseline on the state of the environmental assets, against which, progress in achieving the overall objectives and the goals within the 25 YEP can be assessed. The NCC published advice on how to establish this baseline, and recommended it be measured in 2020 and repeated every 5 years.