Finally, after years of committed locals highlighting the problem, the government is finally taking notice. The Environment Agency announced on Friday £750,000 for a new, dedicated team to tackle plastics pollution in the South West of England. The announcement follows a pledge to eliminate avoidable waste and crack down on plastics as part of the government’s 25-year environment plan . Many people feel the 25-year plan is not working fast enough but at least it is a start.
The pioneer project will see the creation of a new Plastics and Sustainability team across Devon and Cornwall working with businesses, local councils, charities and community action groups, such as the Bude Cleaner Seas Project.
The team will aim to reduce the amount of plastic pollution across land, rivers and the coastline. It will promote better environmental practices across industry, including a reduction in plastic waste from manufacturing, along with community campaigns to clean up pollution locally. Certainly, the issue needs to be tackled nationwide and indeed, globally. Those on the coast get the detritus to deal with but the causes are far-flung.
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, made the monies/team announcement from Bude, Cornwall, where she met with groups and charities who strive to clean up the coastline and keep it free of pollution.
Emma Howard Boyd said:
The government’s ambitious plan for the environment is a significant step forward and the Environment Agency’s commitment to reduce plastic pollution shows how we are already working to put the plan into action.
Plastic pollution is a threat to our natural environment and our new team promises to tackle it head on. By working together, we can reduce the amount which enters our land, rivers and the sea and protect wildlife for future generations.
The Environment Agency’s work with partners to improve bathing waters has led to a dramatic improvement in water quality in recent years which has benefited coastal communities, visitors and tourism. A similar partnership approach will be taken by the new Plastics and Sustainability team. The ambitions for the project include:
- A reduction of plastics reaching land, waterways and shorelines.
- Promotion of better environmental practices in business and a reduction in plastic waste from the start of the manufacturing process.
- Increased local engagement to change public behaviour and encourage more community action to tackle pollution.
- Monitoring and research into ways plastics enter and affect the environment, supporting leading academics in the South West.
During Emma Howard Boyd’s visit to Cornwall, she also spent time at Bude Haven school speaking to children about their passion for protecting their coastline and met a local business owner, Tom Dawe, to find out how he had made his beachside restaurant more sustainable.
Emma will return to Bude in June to mark World Oceans Day and to see the project’s progress.