It is not yet clear that the government has in place what it needs to meet its long-term environmental goals, and it will need to shift momentum to achieve its ambition of improving the natural environment in England within a generation, according to today’s report from the National Audit Office (NAO).
In 2011, government set an ambition for this to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state that it inherited. In 2018, the government published a 25 Year Environmental Plan (the Environment Plan), to achieve this ambition, and position the UK as a global environmental leader.1 The Environment Plan set 10 overarching goals covering issues such as clean air, clean and plentiful water and thriving plants and wildlife.
This report examines how government has set itself up to deliver its long-term environmental goals, highlighting the most significant potential strengths and areas for improvement, as well as key risks that it will need to manage.
Clear objectives and plans are important for persuading people within and outside government to take environmental goals seriously. The Environment Plan marked a step forward in setting direction for environmental policy,but its headline ambitions are a mixture of aspirations, legally binding targets and policy commitments, with varying and unclear timescales. In January 2020, the government presented a wide-ranging Environment Bill (the Bill) to Parliament, which would help clarify ambitions for five of government’s environmental goals. The Bill includes requirements for the government to set at least one new long-term target for air quality, water, biodiversity and resource efficiency and waste reduction. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Bill’s progress through Parliament paused between March and November 2020.
Read the report here