Thank you for raising my awareness of the Natural Capital construct at our recent Annual General Meeting. I appreciate you probably have first-hand knowledge of how the Treasury’s policy wonks operate and of the seriousness Michael Gove Secretary of State; for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has for improving England’s Natural Environment. You argue the Natural Capital construct is the best way to encourage policy makers at the Treasury to properly consider the quality of the natural environment when making investment decisions designed to produce economic benefit. You also claim the aims of CPRE are compatible with the aims of the Natural Capital construct.
I appreciate the construct may provide hope for professionals involved with the management of the Natural Environment, and the general public. However, this may be false hope, as I have heard from professionals how National and Local politicians have promised to support projects that enhance the value of the natural environment and improve public access to it, only to discover prior to project implementation the promised support does not materialise. Of course, those of us who are concerned about the Natural Environment can hope the attitudes and behaviours of all politicians will change but such a profound change could take decades unlike the superficial changes in the conduct of business claimed by private sector organisations and management educators.
From my experience of engaging with the general public the construct is far too complicated for most of them to effectively engage with, for example, during public consultations. The construct seems to have been produced and is intended to be implemented by members of ‘Plato’s Republic’. As well for civic groups like CPRE, the construct seems similar, apart from a few esoteric differences, to Jonathan Porritt’s failing Sustainability construct whose meaning has been corrupted by National and Local politicians since it began to feature in Government policy, for example, the National Planning Policy Framework. This framework being underpinned with the the oxymoron; Sustainable Growth.
You say the successful implementation of the construct requires a high degree of commitment and integrated decision-making between professionals working in National and Local Government, civic organisations and the general public. Justifying this view by citing the dubious planning decisions of distinctly separate Local Governments, for example Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Such a high level of integrated decision-making is wishful thinking, as the direction of travel is the disintegration of whole systems of government, for example, the United Kingdom breaking away from the European Union, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland breaking away from the United Kingdom, the existence of Mayoralties such as Birmingham, Manchester, London etc., and the Sovereignty of LOCAL Authorities when plan-making.
Do you honestly beleive Michael Gove is truly sincere? Can he be trusted to implement the Natural Capital construct? His track record in Government is poor as if he had been an effective Secretary of State for Education he would still be in that role. Plus, on reading media accounts of his political behaviour one can only conclude this behaviour is duplicitous. Is Michael Gove’s view of the future Natural Environment and its management supreme? Is his view of the future of England’s NAtural Environment shared amongst Cabinet Ministers? Has he got the political authority to convince a majority of Members of Parliament to vote for the legislation necessary to implement the Natural Capital construct? Where in the construct are the details of how disputes between separate units of Government about the value of each unit’s Natural Capital resolved. Currently in the context of Local Planning, units of Government in Cabinet Ministers constituencies have less new housing development in their jurisdictions than the constituencies of Members of Parliament who are not in the Cabinet. If this circumstance continues when the Natural Capital construct is implemented will it be argued the Natural Environments of Runnymede & Weybridge, and Maidenhead, are more valuable than the Natural Environments of Mid Bedfordshire and South West Bedfordshire?