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Press release

25 NOV 2019

Liberal Democrats on climate change: land management and flood mitigation

Dr Patrice Cairns RICS

Dr Patrice Cairns

Policy Manager, Northern Ireland

Belfast, UK

RICS

Climate change will increase the occurrence and intensity of extreme weather events over the coming years and decades. In particular, the UK has experienced increasingly frequent and serious flooding events, most recently across northern counties of England.

RICS recognises the challenges these events pose to water management, and has called on government, the construction industry and businesses to consider their approach to futureproofing water supply and protect homes and communities. Net zero targets and low carbon measures do not negate the need for adaptation; it requires both urgent investment and cross-government collaboration.

In its manifesto, the Liberal Democrat party sets out its aim to ‘protect the natural environment and reverse biodiversity loss [while] at the same time as combating climate change’. Sustainable land management, forestry, and effective spatial use are common threads that knit together many of the party pledges, which include the following policies.

  • Introduce a nature bill designed to restore the natural environment through legally binding short- and long-term targets for improving water, air, soil and biodiversity, supported by funding streams of at least £18bn over a five year period.
  • Combat climate change, and benefit nature and people by coordinating the planting of 60 million trees a year, and introduce requirements for the greater use of sustainably harvested wood in construction.
  • Invest in large-scale restoration of peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters, helping to absorb carbon, protect against floods, improve water quality and protect habitats through the introduction of rewilding schemes.
  • Reduce basic agricultural support payments to larger recipients and redeploy the savings to support the public goods that come from effective land management, which include restoring nature, protecting the countryside, preventing flooding and combating climate change through carbon sequestering measures that increase soil carbon and expand native woodland.
  • Significantly increase the amount of accessible green space by protecting up to a million acres of land, completing the coastal path, exploring a right to roam for waterways and creating a new designation of National Nature Parks.
  • Protect and restore England’s lakes, rivers and wetlands through reform of water management and higher water efficiency standards and establish a blue belt of marine protected areas covering at least 50 per cent of UK waters by 2030, in partnership with UK overseas territories.
  • Establish a £5bn fund for flood prevention and climate adaptation over the course of the parliamentary term to improve flood defences, and introduce high standards for flood resilience for buildings and infrastructure in flood risk areas.
flood, flooding, street, SB, RICS, 050218
Whilst the manifesto includes a number of sustainable measures, RICS believe that dedicated investment is required for holistic and cost-effective flood management

While the party manifesto alludes to the public goods that come from effective land management, it lacks detail on how such a system would be implemented. RICS believes that new approaches to the valuation, appraisal and management of natural capital and ecosystem services can transform the way land is managed, how development is undertaken, and how assets are appraised, valued and ultimately, financed.

RICS would like to see a greater focus from the government on natural capital and the development of active ecosystem services markets which can assist in alleviating the impacts of climate change. However, for the full range of potential benefits available from the most efficient management of natural capital to be experienced economically, environmentally and socially, private investment will be essential.

RICS would like to see a greater focus from the government on natural capital and the development of active ecosystem services markets which can assist in alleviating the impacts of climate change.

RICS has long called for government to invest in a programme of natural holistic and cost-effective flood prevention and management. We would welcome a dedicated fund for flood prevention and climate adaptation to improve flood defences, and fully support the use of blue-green infrastructure to enhance resilience.

In light of repeated flooding experienced across the UK, RICS particularly calls for greater investment to mitigate the risks of surface water flooding occurring from increasingly heavy rainfall events. We believe this investment must be at an appropriate level to deliver a long-term programme of adaptive measures that increase the resilience of existing assets.

Dr Patrice Cairns RICS

Dr Patrice Cairns

Policy Manager, Northern Ireland

Belfast, UK

RICS

Dr Cairns is a policy manager within the RICS UK Government Relations team. In addition to developing UK policy and promoting RICS thought leadership, Dr Cairns is responsible for leading RICS public policy work in Northern Ireland across all priority issues and key sectors. She works to build RICS' influence, credibility and profile.

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