Press release

Deputy Prime Minister hails green achievements across England

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New analysis shows a green economy thriving across the country, while 1 million new trees have been planted in towns and cities.

Map of England showing green achievements (eg 1m trees planted over last 4 years)

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is today (Friday 6 March) celebrating a series of green achievements across England as the countdown to charging for plastic bags begins. With supermarkets planning to banish free bags to protect the environment in a matter of months, Nick Clegg heralds the green achievements of the last 4 years.

New analysis for each region shows that in every corner of the country there is a green economy thriving. In the last 4 years, 1 million new trees have been planted in towns and cities, 940 miles of hedges have been restored or planted and 150,000 acres of field margins, wetlands and woodlands have been created.

The next major step to changing how we protect our environment will begin on 5 October 2015 as a 5 pence charge for plastic bags comes into effect. This is estimated to reduce by half the number of plastic bags we use, instead of the 138 we each use and dispose of every year.

Nick Clegg at Seal Sanctuary in Cornwall

The Deputy Prime Minister visited the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek to see the terrible environmental impact of plastic waste and the harm it causes to wildlife. Nick Clegg saw first hand how plastic litter and plastic bags puts wildlife in seas and rivers in grave danger.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

From coasts to cities, and woodland to water, I have made protecting the environment one of my top priorities. Seeing for myself the effects of plastics waste on wildlife here at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary only reinforces how crucial it is that we keep the pressure on and don’t let protecting nature slip down the political agenda in the UK.

We can all play a part in protecting our planet. There are many ways to reduce pollution in our environment and protect our natural spaces and wildlife. Using less plastic bags is a vital first step and supermarkets starting to charge for the bags we use is just the start.

At the beginning of this coalition government we made ambitious promises. Four years on I’m proud to say that we’ve made real changes. From planting new trees, to boosting green travel options in their cities, the powerful steps we’ve taken will conserve our environment now and for years to come.

256 kilometres of English coastal paths have been approved, of which 163 km have been opened at Weymouth and on parts of the coast in Cumbria, Norfolk and in Durham, Hartlepool and Sunderland.

27 Marine Conservation Zones were created up and down the English coastline and 9,700 miles of rivers and 410 square miles of lakes and estuaries have been cleaned up. Our bathing waters are cleaner now than ever before – with 99% of them passing EU standards and almost 80% of those passing the highest standards.

To improve green travel, 8 Cycling Cities have been created. Cities will receive a share of £114 million to support local cycling infrastructure in the next three years.

Facts on plastic bags

  • in the 3 years from 2010 to 2013, an extra billion plastic bags were used, an increase of 18%
  • in 2013 alone, England’s main supermarket chains issued over 7 billion single use carrier bags to their customers: laid out end to end these bags would go round the M25 over 20,000 times
  • plastic bags are a big source of unsightly litter which blots the landscape people enjoy – the current annual cost of clearing up plastic bag litter is £14.5 million
  • charging for plastic bags is expected to result in savings of around £60 million in litter clean-up costs over 10 years – and charities are also set to benefit from the introduction of the 5p charge as charging is estimated to raise about £730 million over 10 years for good causes
Published 6 March 2015