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Government nature strategies, policies and measures

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1. Clear air / air quality

25 Year Environment Plan

  • The UK committed to ending sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. All new cars and vans must be 100% zero emission at tailpipe from 2035. Read more, p24
  • Transport Decarbonisation Plan Read more

Environment Act 

  • Legally binding target for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in addition to a separate AQ target (reducing population exposure) Read more
  • Measures to reduce emissions from domestic solid fuel burning Read more
  • New powers to compel vehicle manufacturers to recall vehicles for environmental non-conformity or failure. Read more
2. Clean and plentiful water / water quality

25 Year Environment Plan

  • New funding for Catchment Sensitive Farming Read more, p46
  • Funding has helped to address pollution that occurs when abandoned metal mines are closed. Read more, p101

Environment Act Read more

  • Requirements for Water Companies to plan on catchment basis for future water supply. 
  • Putting wastewater and drainage management plans on a statutory footing.
  • Creating new legal duties on storm overflows to tackle sewage discharges into rivers, and public reporting requirements on storm overflow activity
  • Government will publish a statutory plan of reducing discharges from storm overflows by September 2022
  • Enabling Environment Agency to vary or revoke abstraction licenses without liability for compensation from 2028
3. Thriving plants and wildlife

25 Year Environment Plan

  • A new National Delivery Partnership has begun, led by Natural England, to support delivery of the Nature Recovery Network across England. Read more, p56
  • The UK Marine Strategy (Part 2) sets out the monitoring programmes that will be used to assess progress towards our updated Good Environmental Status targets. Read more
  • Sustainable fishing and management of Marine Protected Areas will be supported by the provisions of the Fisheries Act 2020. We will begin introducing Highly Protected Marine Areas by identifying a number of pilot locations within English waters. Read more
  • 30 by 30, the commitment to protect 30% of the UK’s land by 2030 Read more

Environment Act  

  • Legally-binding target to halt species decline by 2030. (This will be developed alongside other legally binding targets due for consultation in early 2022) Read more
  • Woodland cover target
  • Due Diligence Obligation on larger businesses. (Prohibiting the use of agriculture commodities produced on illegally deforested land. This will better protect precious ecosystems such as the Amazon) Read more
  • Mandatory 10% biodiversity net gain for new developments. Read more
  • Protected Sites Strategies and Species Conservation Strategies to support the design of strategic approaches to deliver better outcomes for nature Read more
  • Local Nature Recovery Strategies across England. Read more
  • Supports major aim in the 25YEP to create a national network of wildlife-rich places – the Nature Recovery Network, covering the whole of England
  • Led locally by a responsible body Each strategy will, for the area that it covers:
  • map the most valuable existing habitat for nature
  • map specific proposals for creating or improving habitat for nature and wider environment goals; and
  • agree priorities for nature’s recovery
  • LNRSs will guide smooth and effective delivery of biodiversity net gain and other nature recovery measures by helping developers and planning authorities avoid the most valuable existing habitat and focus habitat creation or improvement where it will achieve the best outcomes.
  • Nature Recovery Green Paper in early 2022 (it will set out approach to driving nature recovery and provide the primary vehicle for developing and engaging on our future plans and proposals). It will set out how we aim to achieve our goal to protect 30% of our land for nature by 2030. At present, under their current statutory purposes, level of protection and management, protected landscapes cannot be said to contribute towards 30 by 30 in their entirety, and they must do more to drive the recovery of nature. Applying our framework for what should count to 30 by 30 as set out in our Nature Recovery Green Paper will allow us to identify and prioritise where reform and investment are most needed in our protected landscapes.

Agriculture Act 2020

  • Environmental Land Management: as set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan 2021-2024 Read more
  • Local Nature Recovery begins phased rollout from 2023 – will identify projects or habitats within protected landscapes
  • Landscape Recovery begins piloting in 2022.
  • Sustainable Farming Incentive begins Spring 2022 with payments based on set of standards: Read more
  • Soils
  • Moorland and Rough Grazing
  • Annual Health and Welfare Review (first component of the Animal Health & Welfare Pathway)

Glover Review

  • Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) programmewas launched to help our lead partners forge new or stronger relationships with farmers to deliver projects that support nature recovery, mitigate climate change, improve access, and support sustainable farm businesses. The programme is part of Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan
  • The England Trees Action Planlaunched in May 2021 committed to treble tree planting rates in England by the end of this Parliament. It includes at least three new community forests located in areas of social and tree canopy deprivation and funding for planting in the North and Midlands through the Northern Forest and National Forest Company.
  • National Parks England (NPE) has set clear targets for climate mitigation and nature recovery through their delivery plans. Led by the National Association for AONBs, AONB teams are working to deliver the Colchester Declaration, which includes targets for habitat restoration and species recovery.
  • Government is developing the Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (NCEA), which will provide data on habitats, natural capital, and ecosystem function. This will help to monitor progress against agreed outcomes. Combining earth observation technology and data science with professional field surveys and citizen science, this tool will inform the priorities of protected landscapes, including flood risk reduction, boosts to wildlife, water air quality improvements, and opportunities for biodiversity net gain.
4. Beauty, heritage and engagement
  • Action on mental ill health through access to nature is underway with a multi-million-pound project to test nature-based social prescribing. Read more

Glover Review

  • Natural England has set out an ambitious new landscape designation programme (this includes considering the creation of two new AONBs in the Yorkshire Wolds and Cheshire Sandstone Ridge, and extensions to the Surrey Hills and Chilterns AONBs) exploring new approaches to improve landscapes for people and nature, particularly in and around towns and cities.
  • Protected landscapes have a key role in our Net Zero Strategy which sets our ambition to use our land more effectively to tackle climate change.
  • The government’s Tourism Recovery Planrecognises that the government has a role in helping the tourism industry play its part in contributing to the conservation and enhancement of cultural, natural and historic heritage, and avoiding damage to the environment. VisitBritain/VisitEngland are celebrating and sharing sustainable best practice and working with the sector to put the UK’s natural environment, including our protected landscapes at the heart of the country’s brand proposition. To identify and deliver further ways to help the industry to grow back greener, we have also committed to producing a Sustainable Tourism Plan, working with the wider Visitor Economy sector and VisitBritain/VisitEngland, and will be engaging with representatives from the protected landscapes to help inform that plan.
5. Mitigating and adapting to climate change
  • Legislation has been laid for the UK’s sixth carbon budget, proposing a world leading target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035. Read more
  • Investment in new jobs through the Green Recovery Challenge Fund
  • England Trees Action Plan: will ensure that we have at least 12% woodland cover by the middle of the century, supported by over £500 million of the £640 million Nature for Climate Fund.
  • England Peat Action Plan: sets out our plans to restore, sustainably manage and protect our peatlands. We committed to immediately fund at least 35,000 ha of peatland restoration by 2025. This includes a £2.7 million investment through the Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme into the Great North Bog.
    • The Government will ban sales of peat products by the end of this Parliament, subject to public consultation this year.
  • Protected landscapes have a key role in our Net Zero Strategy which sets our ambition to use our land more effectively to tackle climate change.
6. Reduced risk of harm from environmental hazards

Natural Flood Management Programme

  • Natural flood management uses nature-based solutions to manage the risk of flooding and coastal erosion. The Natural Flood Management Programme had 60 pilot projects across England. It received £15 million of funding from government and was managed by the Environment Agenc
7. Minimising waste

Environment Act  

  • new resource-efficiency standards and clear product labelling Read more
  • extended producer responsibility schemes require producers to pay the full net cost of managing their products at end of life and can be applied at all levels of the waste hierarchy e.g. prevention of food waste and increase the redistribution of food surplus. We intend to introduce an EPR scheme for packaging initially, and have consulted on the detail of this scheme.
  • Enabling new charges for all single use items – made of any material. The materials to be charged for will be set following analysis and consultation
  • deposit return schemes – the materials in scope still TBD following consultation.
  • Improvements to waste management
  • Local authorities in England to collect the same range of materials for recycling from households (“Consistent Collections”)
  • Ensure households have a weekly separate food waste collection
  • Improve the management of waste, by enabling the Secretary of State to make regulations in relation to tracking waste digitally
  • Fill a gap in existing powers to ensure that waste can be collected and disposed of when normal processes fail
  • tackling illegal waste more effectively
  • Improve the proportionality and fairness of litter enforcement
  • Enable the Secretary of State to make regulations to amend the permitted range of penalties for existing Fixed Penalty Notices
  • Allow the Environment Agency to be more flexible and responsive in managing exempt waste sites and ensure proportionate controls are in place to avoid environmental harm or illegal activity as waste market practices change
  • banning or restricting export of waste to non-OECD countries.
8. Managing exposure to chemicals and pesticides
9. Protecting and improving our global environment
10. Green finance
  • HM Treasury has increased the requirements on environmental reporting, including extending the use of natural capital appraisal within the Green Book.
  • The Public Value Framework was published in November 2020 including a new cross-Government environment outcome.
  • Plans to issue the inaugural Sovereign Green Bond (Green Gilt) in 2021, was announced in November 2020, and the first issuance is expected before COP26.
  • At least £3 billion (over 5 years) of the UK’s International Climate Finance will be spent on climate change solutions that support nature and help the poorest.
  • The 2021 Spending Review (p77) also announced a new government target to leverage at least £500 million a year for nature’s recovery by 2027 and more than £1 billion a year by 2030.
  • Plans to treble tree planting rates in England during this Parliament will be funded through the Nature for Climate Fund (part of the above nature recovery budget) while a major new multi-million pound tree planting grant – the England Woodland Creation Offer – will provide greater financial incentives for landowners and farmers to plant and manage trees.
  • Development of UK Green Taxonomy.
  • Government increased the grant settlement for AONB teams by almost £1 million (15%) for the current financial year, however there is relatively limited scope to increase the core grant by the scale suggested in the review, or to provide longer funding settlements that extend beyond a spending review period.
  • Government is supporting a number of nature projects in protected landscapes to attract private investment through our Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund, as well as developing a public-private blended impact fund. One example of attracting private finance   into protected landscapes is the National Parks Partnership Net Zero With Nature pilot programme.
  • Individual protected landscapes to develop commercial strategies within a year and target minimum 5 new flagship partners by 2025 appropriate to their brand and identity to help generate commercial and sponsorship opportunities.
11. Environment measures coming into action

2022

  • Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) begins
  • Environmental Principles Policy Statement published
  • Roll-out of Local Nature Recovery Strategies begins
  • Conservation Covenants Secretary of State appoint Responsible Bodies
  • Forestry Enforcement Measures
  • Publish UK Joint Fisheries Statement 

2023

  • Environmental Principles go-live
  • Targets go-live
  • Biodiversity Net Gain go-live
  • Forestry Implementation Duty to Consult

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