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PML scientist highlights marine stewardship in government report

6 February 2019

This week the Natural Capital Committee (NCC), an independent body that advises the Government on how to develop and deliver its 25 Year Environment Plan to improve the environment, launched its 6th Annual Report. PML’s Head of Science for the Sea & Society science area, Prof. Melanie Austen, joined the Committee last year and contributed to the report for the first time.

Estuary with boat

Prof. Austen commented: "I am delighted that the 1st Annual Report that I've been involved in includes advice to government on addressing marine natural capital areas, for example: health & wellbeing benefits; incentivising marine natural capital stewardship among sea users; land management supported by public money should take full account of impacts on our seas; and application of net gain to the marine environment"

In the report the NCC highlights that since the government published the White Paper, The Natural Choice in 2011, committing to the objective “to be the first generation to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than it inherited”, and its 25 Year Environment Plan last year, the gap between ambition and outcomes has widened.

The main recommendations from the report include:

  • The 25 Year Environment Plan must be placed on a meaningful statutory basis in the forthcoming Environment Bill promised for this year.

  • A lead body should be designated, and given responsibility for overseeing the delivery of the Plan and its ten goals.

  • Three principles should drive the implementation of the 25 YEP: public money for public goods; the polluter pays; net environmental gain. 

Professor Dieter Helm, Chairman of the Natural Capital Committee, said: “Of prime importance is to ensure that the 25 YEP and its goals are given a meaningful statutory footing, and that the environmental institutions are aligned to ensure that the 25 YEP’s objective is met. Without this, there is a very real danger that the 2011 White Paper and the 25 YEP go the way of so many bold initiatives that have punctuated the decline of England’s natural environment over the previous generations.”

To read the NCC’s Annual report in full please visit

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