Gazette readers were asked how they felt about artificial lawns and came down decidedly against them, with 83 per cent of those survey said that they “hate them”, with no votes whatsoever in favour.
The petition ran for six months and gained 10,902 signatures, which prompted the government’s official response. All petitions which reach 10,000 signatures are responded to. The goal of the petition was to reach 100,000 signatures so that it would then be considered for a debate in parliament.
The response said: “Improving the UK’s biodiversity is a key objective for the government. We recognise that, in itself, artificial grass has no value for wildlife and its installation can have negative impacts on soil health, biodiversity and drainage for flood prevention or alleviation.”
Adding: “We prefer to help people and companies make the right choice, rather than banning or taxing items outright. We are seeing more organisations, including the Royal Horticultural Society, helping to communicate the risks and issues surrounding the use of artificial grass in place of natural landscaping.”
The response in full
Improving the UK’s biodiversity is a key objective for the Government. We recognise that, in itself, artificial grass has no value for wildlife, and its installation can have negative impacts on soil health, biodiversity and drainage for flood prevention or alleviation, if installed in place of natural earth or more positive measures such as planting flowers or trees or providing natural water features.
We prefer to help people and companies make the right choice, rather than banning or taxing items outright. We are seeing more organisations, including the Royal Horticultural Society, helping to communicate the risks and issues surrounding the use of artificial grass in place of natural landscaping.
The 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. Given the scale of the plastics problem, we need to take a targeted and evidence-led approach to tackling the issues of plastic waste. That is why our Plastic Packaging Tax and Collection and Packaging Reforms will help to reduce plastic waste, ensuring we keep as much material in circulation for as long as possible, by incentivising reduction, reuse and recycling of plastic at end-of-life.
We have no current plans to ban the sale of artificial grass, but in our recent call for evidence on commonly littered and problematic plastic items, we asked the public if there were any further plastic items we should consider for future policy action. We will review the feedback from the call for evidence and publish a response in due course.
The Environment Act 2021 contains an ambitious package of reforms to restore and enhance nature and green spaces. This includes a new mandatory requirement for biodiversity net gain in the planning system, to ensure that new developments enhance biodiversity. In future, developments which involve the laying of artificial grass at the expense of natural landscaping will be required to enhance biodiversity in other ways.
In addition, the Environment Act strengthens the current biodiversity duty on public authorities to require them to take action to conserve and enhance biodiversity; and introduces a reporting requirement for those public authorities with the greatest potential to enhance biodiversity. This will further incentivise public authorities to adopt approaches that improve the environment. We are also developing guidance to help local planning authorities identify actions they can take to comply with the strengthened duty.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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