The UK Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 aims to restore nature and improve the environmental quality of air, water and land.
With new powers and duties from the Environment Act, Agriculture Act and Fisheries Act the new Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 provides a comprehensive delivery plan for the government’s approach to halting and then reversing the decline in nature.
The new plan covers how government will: Create and restore at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats, starting with 70 new wildlife projects including 25 new or expanded National Nature Reserves and 19 further Nature Recovery Projects;
Deliver a clean and plentiful supply of water for people and nature into the future, by tackling leaks, publishing a roadmap to boost household water efficiency, and enabling greater sources of supply;
Challenge councils to improve air quality more quickly and tackle key hotspots;
Transform the management of 70 per cent of UK countryside by incentivising farmers to adopt nature-friendly practices;
Boost green growth and create new jobs from foresters and farmers to roles in green finance and research and development.
The public will also benefit from a new commitment to access green space or water within a 15-minute walk from their home, such as woodlands, wetlands, parks and rivers.
“Protecting our natural environment is fundamental to the health, economy and prosperity of our country,” said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. “This plan provides the blueprint for how we will deliver our commitment to leave our environment in a better state than we found it, making sure we drive forward progress with renewed ambition and achieve our target of not just halting, but reversing the decline of nature.”
Other new commitments include a multi-million pound Species Survival Fund to protect rarest species, from hedgehogs to red squirrels. Through the support of government schemes 65 to 80 per cent of landowners and farmers will adopt nature friendly farming practices on at least 10 to 15 per cent of their land by 2030. They will also be supported to create or restore 30,000 miles of hedgerows by 2037 and 45,000 miles of hedgerows by 2050.
Ten actions on water efficiency in new developments and retrofits including reviewing building regulations and other legislation to address leaky loos and confusing dual flush buttons and to enable new water efficient technologies; Restoring 400 miles of river through the first round of Landscape Recovery projects and establishing 3,000 hectares of new woodlands along England’s rivers and reforming the current regulatory framework to rationalise the number of regulatory plans and create a more efficient system which better enables joined up working to achieve catchment-level outcomes.
Challenging councils to improve air quality more quickly by assessing their performance and use of existing powers, while supporting them with clear guidance, funding, and tools; Reducing ammonia emissions through incentives in our new farming schemes, while considering expanding environmental permitting condition to dairy and intensive beef farms and improving the way air quality information is communicated with the public.
Making it easier for people to do the right thing to minimise their waste, including a new set of interim targets for 2028 to reduce different types of waste, including plastic, glass, metal, paper, and food.
The plan sets out a clear framework to ensure progress can be clearly tracked. The environmental principles policy statement means that, from 1 November 2023, environmental protection and enhancement will be embedded into the design and development of new policy across Government.