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The Government’s long-awaited Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) for England was published on 31 January. It claims to set out a five-year delivery plan to restore nature and improve the environmental quality of the air, waters, and land. It includes a new commitment that everyone should live within 15 minutes’ walk of a green or blue space.
While we welcome these aspirations, we remain concerned about delivery of the EIP’s aims. We need the commitment of long-term funding and legislation to protect new areas of green and blue space and ensure they are accessible to the public in perpetuity. As a member of the Better Planning Coalition, we are pressing for changes in the Levelling Up and Regeneration bill to secure action on some of this.
The EIP is the five-year review, required by the Environment Act 2021, of the 25 year Environment Plan (25EP) which sets out the government’s vision to help restore the natural environment.
The EIP states how the government will work with landowners, communities and businesses to deliver each of the goals for improving the environment, including interim targets to measure progress. The government believes taking the actions below will help to restore nature, reduce environmental pollution, and increase the prosperity of our country.
- Launch the Species Survival Fund to create, enhance and restore habitats.
- Create, restore, and extend around 70 areas for wildlife through projects including new National Nature Reserves, and the next rounds of the Landscape Recovery Projects. Protect 30% of our land and sea for nature through the Nature Recovery Network and enhanced protections for our marine protected areas.
- Designate the first Highly Protected Marine Areas this year.
- Implement the Environment Act 2021, including rolling out Local Nature Recovery Strategies to identify areas to create and restore habitat, and Biodiversity Net Gain to enhance the built environment.
- Support a transformation in the management of 70% of our countryside by incentivising farmers to adopt nature friendly farming practices.
- Publish an updated Green Finance Strategy
Also published on 31 January, is the Outcome Indicator Framework which describes environmental change that relates to the 10 goals in the 25 Year Environment Plan.
Goal 1: Thriving plants and wildlife
Goal 2: Clean air
Goal 3: Clean and plentiful water
Goal 4: Managing exposure to chemicals and pesticides
Goal 5: Maximise our resources, minimise our waste
Goal 6: Using resources from nature sustainably
Goal 7: Mitigating and adapting to climate change
Goal 8: Reduced risk of harm from environmental hazards
Goal 9: Enhancing biosecurity
Goal 10: Enhancing beauty, heritage and engagement with the natural environment
The society will consider the detail in the nearly 300 page EIP and in the new environmental principles policy statement which it claims will embed protections and enhancements for the environment in all government policy-making.
Photo: Shane Young