The UK is making ‘encouraging’ progress towards the environmental goals set out in its 25 Year Environment Plan, the government has claimed.
Publishing their first progress report into the UK’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which launched in January last year, ministers say 90% of the actions in the plan have been delivered or are being progressed in its first year.
Plans to crack down on plastic waste, protecting wildlife habits and progressing its flagship Environment Bill are just a few points of progress the government says it has made on the plan.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: ‘Through our landmark 25 Year Environment Plan and upcoming Environment Bill, we are committed to bold action on tackling plastic waste, reforming farming, protecting our landscapes and boosting wildlife. While progress is encouraging, we know there is still more to do.’
Alongside its report, the government has also published a new indicator framework to measure the outcomes of the Environment Plan, claiming that this will make the UK one of the first countries to use such an extensive tool.
Ministers are also considering the introduction of a citizen science project whereby data collected by members of the public can inform future environmental policy.
The government is currently in the middle of drafting its Environment Bill which will transfer its 25 Year Environmental Plan into law, having previously launched its new Agriculture and Fisheries bills.
While environmental campaigners have welcomed the 25 Year Environment Plan, they have stressed that the government must take further action to make sure that its environmental measures are properly implemented.
Strong legislation, resources and funding must all be provided to meet the challenges for the UK’s environment, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said.
Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive at CPRE, said: ‘The government’s 25 Year Environment Plan is a fantastic commitment to long-term investment in the health and enhancement of our countryside and environment.
‘While we welcome the openness and level of engagement by Defra over many of its proposals, so far there have been a lot of warm-words and consultation, but not enough action.
‘As political wrangling continues over the Environment Bill and with the Agriculture Bill nowhere to be seen, it is important that momentum is not lost on these crucial measures that will deliver the ambitions of the Plan.’
The publication of the report comes after the Environmental Audit Committee raised concerns about the draft Environment Bill, which will dictate how the UK will protect its environment if it leaves the EU as planned.
The bill falls ‘woefully short’ in protecting the UK’s environment post-Brexit as things stand, MPs said, as they raised concerns that it ‘lacks coherence’ and will not make government departments sufficiently accountable.
The government’s full Environment Bill – which will cover air quality, nature conservation and waste management – is set to be introduced later this year.