“Why can’t pressure groups at least acknowledge progress has been made and give some credit to ministers for putting together a plan with targets that they are pledging to hit?”
“You cannot trash people’s lives and livelihoods in pursuit of green objectives – there has to be some balance.”
Yesterday, the government launched its new environment plan: Environment Improvement Plan launched – GOV.UK
The response has been mixed: Environmental Improvement Plan: Government unveils ‘comprehensive’ to-do list to reverse nature decline – edie and Every household in England ‘to be within 15 minutes of green space or water’ | Access to green space | The Guardian
The front page of this morning’s Western Morning News covers the response from the likes of Greenpeace and FOE.
The editor Philip Bowern gives the opinion piece in the daily newsletter: Philip Bowern (@wmorningnewsman) / Twitter
And interestingly, he feels there should be a more nuanced approach when putting together the headlines for such a story. Here’s part of his piece from this morning;
Kneejerk negativity is wearing me down
In some cases, I accept, I or the sub-editors handling my stories when I worked as a reporter could be guilty of over-egging the pudding. Mild criticism doesn’t make for a great splash in the paper – furious denouncement does…
Take the Government’s Environment Plan, given a substantial makeover yesterday and spruced up, ready to tackle increasing concerns about the decline of nature and the desperate need to slow down the rate of climate change. The plan includes the creation of 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats, an initial 25 new or expanded National Nature Reserves, a multi-million pound fund to help the survival of rare and endangered species, better support for farmers engaging in wildlife-friendly agriculture and the restoration of miles of rivers, along with the planting of millions of extra trees.
So what’s the reaction of two of the country’s most influential environmental campaign groups? Not very positive, that’s for sure. Greenpeace UK said that if the Government’s plan was a road map, “then its a road map off a cliff.” Friends of the Earth said it was just rehashed commitments at odds with other Government policies.
Those kinds of comments are just the thing to get the juices flowing if your job is to come up with a thumping great headline on a page lead in a tabloid newspaper…
Delve more deeply into the objections from Greenpeace and the animosity becomes even starker, with calls for fishing bans and a dramatic reduction in livestock farming. Friends of the Earth, meanwhile, wants an end to road building. Making dramatic demands and complaining the Government isn’t going far enough or fast enough is perfectly fine. But why can’t pressure groups at least acknowledge progress has been made and give some credit to ministers for putting together a plan with targets that they are pledging to hit?
… You cannot trash people’s lives and livelihoods in pursuit of green objectives – there has to be some balance. It is surely time to cut some slack to those who are making progress towards goals the majority want to see, rather than give a kneejerk response which plays to the convictions of supporters but fails to see the other side…
It would make the headline writers’ jobs a little bit harder, but the adversarial nature of debate in Britain – on everything from the state of the countryside to the crisis in the NHS – is getting wearisome, even for someone like me for whom knockabout argument on every subject under the sun has been meat and drink for decades. We need some new and calmer headlines.
Western Morning News –
Meanwhile, demonstrators in Torquay are worried about possible constraints on their ‘freedom of movement’ under proposed plans from the council for 15-Minute Neighbourhoods: Torquay ’15 Minute Cities’ protesters say freedom is at risk – Devon Live and Wake Up Devon protesters take climate campaign to the streets – Devon Live
As Philip Bowern says, “You cannot [be seen to] trash people’s lives and livelihoods in pursuit of green objectives – there has to be some balance.”