On Thursday 16 May, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, and Natural England published the first progress report of its landmark 25 Year Environment Plan indicating that, in the first year alone, 90% of the plan’s actions have been delivered or are being progressed.
Launched in January 2018, the 25 Year Environment Plan sets out how we will improve the environment over a generation by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality and curbing the scourge of plastic in the world’s oceans.
Over the last 12 months, the government has:
- Cracked down on plastic waste by setting out plans to ban plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers and extend the 5p plastic bag charge, and overhauling our waste system with a comprehensive Resources and Waste Strategy.
- Laid our landmark Agriculture Bill before Parliament to introduce a fairer, more sustainable system of environmental land management.
- Committed to plans for the first Environment Bill in 20 years.
- Safeguarded our forests and woodlands by kick-starting the creation of a Northern Forest and appointing a Tree Champion.
- Protected precious wildlife habitats by launching a review to strengthen and enhance England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Protected our marine environment by launching our flagship Fisheries Bill, introducing one of the world’s toughest bans on microbeads and consulting on 41 new Marine Conservation Zones.
- Put the UK at the forefront of combatting the illegal wildlife trade through introducing one of the world’s toughest ivory bans and hosting the global Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London.
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.
As the future stewards of the environment, our children and young people have a crucial role to play in protecting our precious natural world. That is why, in this Year of Green Action, we are involving young people in helping shape our shared future.
The first progress report comes during the Year of Green Action, a year-long drive to get more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the natural world.
The government has today also published a new indicator framework for the 25 Year Environment Plan, becoming one of the first countries to establish such a comprehensive indicator list from which to monitor environmental progress.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has written to the Natural Capital Committee to ask for advice on how the public could volunteer to be involved in a new environmental citizen science project. Members of the public would go out and record their local environment, from logging individual plants and animals to noting changes across whole landscapes, so that the data can be used to help shape future policy.
In addition to involving citizens directly, plans are underway to examine how new technologies could be used to identify gaps in environmental protection. Techniques such as satellite monitoring could show what crops are being grown and where habitats need protecting. Social media data could also be used to understand how people are interacting with their environment.
As announced by the Prime Minister in 2018, the government is currently preparing the first Environment Bill for 20 years which will place the 25 Year Environment Plan on statutory footing and put environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government.