The Government has announced new funding for the UK’s green recovery and a trial on e-scooters.
The £40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund will bring forward funding to help charities and environmental organisations start work on projects across England to restore nature and tackle climate change.
The fund will help conservation organisations and their suppliers create up to 3,000 jobs and safeguard up to 2,000 others in areas such as protecting species, finding nature-based solutions to tackling climate change, conservation rangers and connecting people with the outdoors.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Our ambitious green recovery package will deliver a steady stream of shovel-ready environmental projects, protecting nature at the same time as creating and retaining thousands of new jobs.
“Many of us have become even more appreciative of nature during lockdown and our Green Recovery Challenge Fund will help charities and other organisations employ more people to work on tree-planting, nature restoration and helping the public enjoy the outdoors.”
The Green Recovery Challenge Fund will be funded by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by bringing forward £10 million of money from the Nature Recovery Fund and £30 million of Nature for Climate Funding, so that the money can be spent now when it is most needed.
It is envisaged that the fund will create a broad range of short and long term jobs such as ecologists, surveyors, nature reserve staff and education workers in environment organisations; and support their suppliers in areas such as agricultural engineering, horticulture, and equipment and seed supply.
Organisations will be invited to bid to the fund and details will be set out in due course.
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean has announced new regulations allowing trials of rental e-scooters will come into force on Saturday 4 July 2020.
The first trials are expected to begin the following week. Local authorities and devolved administrations hosting the trials can allow or run the rental schemes in their areas, as outlined in accompanying guidance for areas and rental operators published today.
Whether commuting to work or riding for leisure during the warm summer months, local residents will soon be able to test the benefits of e-scooters on roads, cycle lanes and tracks.
The trials are designed to help understand whether the devices reduce motor traffic, as well as their impacts on safety for their users and others.
They will be strictly prohibited on pavements, will be limited to 15.5mph and riders are recommended to wear helmets.
Users will need to hold a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence to take part in the trials, and must be 16 or over.
To avoid a flood of poor-quality scooters onto the streets, the regulations only cover rental schemes and individually owned scooters will still be illegal on public roads.
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: “As we emerge from lockdown, we have a unique opportunity in transport to build back in a greener, more sustainable way that could lead to cleaner air and healthier communities across Great Britain.
“E-scooters may offer the potential for convenient, clean and cost-effective travel that may also help ease the burden on the transport network, provide another green alternative to get around and allow for social distancing. The trials will allow us to test whether they do these things.”
The trials, which are due to last for 12 months, will be closely monitored so the government can assess the benefits of e-scooters and their impact on public space.
The Prime Minister also re-iterated the government’s commitment to re-foresting Britain by planting 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025, “creating a new patchwork of woodlands to enchant and re-energise the soul”.
The Government is currently consulting on a new English Tree Strategy to expand tree cover, support woodland management and increase public engagement with trees and woodlands.