Bishop & Sewell

Sadly, the debate around supporting nature and biodiversity has hardly figured during this General Election campaign.  Labour has at least pledged to protect at least 30% of the UK’s land and sea if elected, but this only mirrors an existing  commitment made by the government in 2020. Currently, just 3.22% of land in England and 8% of the sea is protected, according to a report from Wildlife and Countryside Link, writes Thom Wilkinson, a Partner in our Property and Environmental Law team.

The recent introduction of biodiversity net gain targets was a move from the current government in the right direction, but most expert observers suggest it does not go far enough. While the political parties are right to call out the limitations with each others’ sustainability policies, the common theme is a lack of detail.

They may announce impressive targets, but there is rarely a concrete plan to reach them. This is despite Labour’s biggest spending commitment is £23.7 billion for “green measures” during the next parliament.

Admittedly, the scale of the economic challenge is huge. At 38%, the UK has the largest proportion of pre-war homes  of  any  European country. Over the last few years, the government has attempted various measures to tackle the energy efficiency of homes, such as the Green Homes Grant, but their implementation has faced criticism for inefficiency.

Labour aims to deliver a Warm Homes Plan to upgrade homes using measures such as loft insulation, committing £6.6 billion during the next parliament. However, this plan was impacted by the cuts to Labour’s previous £28 billion green investment strategy back in February. Funding for the Warm Homes Plan went from £60 billion to upgrade 19 million homes over ten years to £13.2 billion for five million over five years.

Rishi Sunak’s warning of pursuing “unaffordable eco-zealotry” suggests he is throwing doubt on the need to increase the UK’s efforts to reach legal targets. This is despite the Climate Change Committee’s warning that the UK is not on track to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 68% by 2030, as laid out in the Paris Agreement.

Labour says it will decarbonise the grid by 2030, while the Conservatives say they will ensure 95% of energy is low carbon by the same year, with full decarbonisation by 2035.

The Conservative party has a Carbon Budget Delivery Plan, but this has been declared unlawful. The Lib Dems and The Green Party have bold net zero ambitions, but they also lack real clarity or detail .

Labour is focusing much of its overall green stance on energy plans and its pleasing that this was a major point in its manifesto. The party has committed to spend £1.7 billion a year creating Great British Energy, a publicly owned green energy company.

Currently, onshore wind is being largely blocked by policy and planning and there is little to suggest the Conservatives would loosen the system. Labour states that it has plans to double onshore wind capacity, while quadrupling offshore wind and tripling solar power but again without any detail. Other plans revolve around nuclear projects and other sources of power such as green hydrogen.

As leading commercial property agents Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), say on their website., “More bold policies around installation of solar PV systems in urban environments would certainly benefit the real estate industry. However, only the Green Party has explicitly addressed the installation of solar panels on car parks in several of their local manifestos. For example, they advocate for the installation of solar canopies in council car parks to promote renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions”

It’s just a shame that the pragmatist in me feels that is the last we will hear of a very good idea.


Contact our Property Team

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article, please do get in contact, quoting ref CB479. Thom Wilkinson is a Partner specialising in Property and Environmental Law and is contactable on: +44 (0)20 7692 7581 or

The above is accurate as at 24 June 2024. The information above may be subject to change.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Category: Blog, News | Date: 24th Jun 2024

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