Gummer identifies the seven deadly environmental sins: Pressure group attacks 'complacent' paper

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The Independent Online
SEVEN DEADLY environmental sins that could blight the prospects of future generations were pinpointed by John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, yesterday.

'We've all got to change . . . schools, parents, families, old people,' Mr Gummer said, publishing a consultation paper on how the Government should change course after last year's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. 'We cannot pay for our development out of our children's purses.'

Britain's rising demand for water, power, minerals, roads, cars, new housing and shops were highlighted in the document on sustainable development. This is the notion that development and economic growth should not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Mr Gummer wants a 'great debate' before producing a 20-year UK strategy for sustainable development by the year's end, but the timing of his document was unfortunate.

Today the Department of Transport will reveal that the Government is pressing ahead with plans for six- lane link roads beside the M25. Mr Gummer had strongly opposed the project in Cabinet committee. The Department of the Environment regards it as a prime example of unsustainable development.

The seven sins - key unsustainable trends - are:

Emissions of carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and gas;

Worsening local air pollution, caused mainly by increasing emissions from road transport;

The rising demand for water, threatening to dry out streams;

Water pollution caused by farming, sewage, industry and acid rain;

Loss of countryside to roads, homes and other development;

Damage to habitats and loss of wildlife. Each year about 1 per cent of the 5,600 Sites of Special Scientific Interest suffer damage which may be irreversible;

Rising demand for sand, gravel and rock quarries and pits that harm wildlife, landscapes and communities.

Mr Gummer said previous governments had not taken sustainable development seriously.

Andrew Lees, campaigns director of Friends of the Earth, said the consultation paper boded ill for the final strategy. He said: 'We wanted consultation on an agenda for action but this is complacent hand-waving.'