Welcome to 2019, the ‘Year of Green Action’ - as designated by the Government as part of its 25-year Environment Plan. This has produced a flurry of warm words and exhortations for people and organisations to ‘do their bit’ for the environment. That may be, for instance, through using less plastic, saving energy or looking after local wildlife hotspots.

The campaign is being built on three pillars: connect, protect, and enhance. So, for nature conservation, it is suggested that you can connect by taking part in citizen science programmes, learn more about wildlife, and report non-native species. You might help to protect nature by using peat-free compost, minimising your use of pesticides, and improving your understanding of recycling. As for enhancing, why not plant some trees, volunteer with environmental groups, or create a garden wildlife pond?

In addition, fifty young people have been appointed as ambassadors, linked to a #iwill movement. According to Defra’s partner charity, Step Up to Serve, this is intended ‘ to keep young people’s environmental social action front and centre’ , and that youngsters everywhere will influence communities, businesses, and their families to be more environmentally aware and active.

 

As always with initiatives like this, partnerships are being formed with and amongst conservation bodies. This will lead to the Government adding up all that the partners achieve and the number of us that they engage in their activities, before triumphantly announcing the success of the year. This is all smoke and mirrors: where will the true added value be? What will happen that would not have happened anyway without the Government’s intervention and involvement?

Pretending to mobilise already existing resources in this way is an old trick to disguise the fact that no new financial support is being given. This seems to be the case here. I hope that I am wrong, but I have searched internet sites linked to the Year of Green Action and can find no mention of any funds for which individuals or partner organisations can apply.

Much of what will be done is already happening and has been for many years. The principle recycling activity generated is likely to be the recycling of ideas. It all smacks of David Cameron’s Big Society – find out what folk are already doing, slap a Government label on it and take the credit. Or am I being too cynical?

Twitter: @PeteWestbrom