Plans to create thousands of new jobs with an aim of kick-starting the nation’s ‘green recovery’ from the coronavirus pandemic have been unveiled by the government.
The £40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund will bring forward funding to help charities and environmental organisations start work on projects across England to ‘restore nature and tackle climate change’.
The fund will set out to help conservation organisations and their suppliers create up to 3,000 jobs and safeguard up to 2,000 others in areas such as protecting species, finding nature-based solutions to tackling climate change, conservation rangers and connecting people with the outdoors.
Our ambitious green recovery package will deliver a steady stream of shovel-ready environmental projects, protecting nature at the same time as creating and retaining thousands of new jobs
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Our ambitious green recovery package will deliver a steady stream of shovel-ready environmental projects, protecting nature at the same time as creating and retaining thousands of new jobs.
“Many of us have become even more appreciative of nature during lockdown and our Green Recovery Challenge Fund will help charities and other organisations employ more people to work on tree-planting, nature restoration and helping the public enjoy the outdoors.”
The Green Recovery Challenge Fund will be funded by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by bringing forward £10 million of money from the Nature Recovery Fund and £30 million of Nature for Climate Funding, so that the money can be spent now when it is most needed, Defra said.
It comes as a report from Greenpeace estimated that a green recovery from the coronavirus could create a 1.8 million ‘jobs revolution’.
It is envisaged that the fund will create a broad range of short and long term jobs such as ecologists, surveyors, nature reserve staff and education workers in environment organisations; and support their suppliers in areas such as agricultural engineering, horticulture, and equipment and seed supply.
This new fund will kick start nature’s recovery by building partnerships across the country, in towns and cities and in rural areas.
Organisations will be invited to bid to the fund and details will be set out in due course.
Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said: “Coronavirus has shown us even more starkly how vital access to a thriving natural environment is to everybody’s health and wellbeing.
“This new fund will kick start nature’s recovery by building partnerships across the country, in towns and cities and in rural areas.
“It’s also an unprecedented opportunity to build new careers for people from all walks of life to create the environment we need for the future.”
Build back ‘greener’
Today’s green recovery funding support formed part of a wider package to boost the economy announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and “build back a greener and more beautiful Britain”.
The Prime Minister also re-iterated the government’s commitment to re-foresting Britain by planting 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025, “creating a new patchwork of woodlands to enchant and re-energise the soul”.
The Government is currently consulting on a new English Tree Strategy to expand tree cover, support woodland management and increase public engagement with trees and woodlands.
‘Build, build, build’
Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement setting out the Government’s post-coronavirus economic recovery plan, Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), Jacob Hayler said the environmental services sector stands ready to help the Government “build, build, build” and to help create a fairer, greener and more resilient economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “ESA members have invested more than £5 billion in new recycling, waste treatment, sustainable energy and sanitation infrastructure over the past decade, and are poised to deliver millions of pounds of further investment in shovel-ready projects and green jobs around the country, particularly in regions in need of assistance to ‘level up’ the UK.
To unlock our investment potential in green infrastructure, our sector needs clarity over the final shape of the Government’s Resources & Waste Strategy
“We have already written to Government setting out our potential role in the Green Recovery and our pipeline of projects for the next 12 months and beyond.
“To unlock our investment potential in green infrastructure, our sector needs clarity over the final shape of the Government’s Resources & Waste Strategy this year and the removal of significant barriers in the regulatory process caused by a lack of permitting capacity at the Environment Agency, which is currently resulting in vital projects being unnecessarily delayed for months and, in some cases, years.
“What should be a fifteen-week process can currently take closer to fifteen months and unless permitting capacity is increased, this will constrain our ability to support a near-term green recovery to the fullest extent.”
Green at the local level
Local authorities are ‘vital to recovery’, according to the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT).
ADEPT President Nigel Riglar said that the country must ‘build back clean and green at the local level’.
He said: “As we have set out with our partners in A blueprint for accelerating climate action and a green recovery at the local level, local authorities are vital to delivering the Government’s net zero by 2050 ambition.
Economic recovery from Covid-19 must involve building back clean and green at the local level
“With many councils declaring climate emergencies, working at the local level is the only way we will be able to really build for the future, by investing in clean growth.
“ADEPT has been working hard to set out what needs to be done in our Clean Growth Policy Position published in June.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to embed sustainability. Economic recovery from Covid-19 must involve building back clean and green at the local level.”