Environmental Improvement Strategy: The government has set out plans to protect and improve the environment of the UK in a new publication. The five-year delivery plan includes the headline-grabbing pledge that every household in England will be within a 15 minute walk of open green space or a waterway.
Environmental Improvement Strategy The plans outlined in the Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 commit to restoring 400 miles of river and creating or restoring at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats. Threatened species including red squirrels and hedgehogs will be the subject of a new species survival fund.
160 wastewater treatment works will be upgraded to address the problem of sewage spills into water bodies, with a commitment to complete the work by 2027. It will also set out ways to reduce domestic water waste. The plans are designed to align with the Environment Act, and are part of the wider 25-year Environmental Plan.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Protecting our natural environment is fundamental to the health, economy and prosperity of our country.”
He added: “This plan provides the blueprint for how we will deliver our commitment to leave our environment in a better state than we found it, making sure we drive forward progress with renewed ambition and achieve our target of not just halting, but reversing the decline of nature.”
The plans set out further measures for waste reduction, with targets to cut waste and boost recycling for different materials including plastic, glass, paper, metal, and food by 2028.
Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, said: “Our Environmental Improvement Plan sets out how we will continue to improve our environment here in the UK and around the world. Nature is vital for our survival, crucial to our food security, clean air, and clean water as well as health and well-being benefits.”
She added: “We have already started the journey and we have seen improvements. We are transforming financial support for farmers and landowners to prioritise improving the environment, we are stepping up on tree planting, we have cleaner air, we have put a spotlight on water quality and rivers and are forcing industry to clean up its act.”
Although the plans are to be welcomed, some landowners, farmers, environmentalists, and other interested parties have commented on the lack of detail and funding information in the plans.
Mark Tufnell, the president of the Country Land and Business Association, said: “The government is right to be ambitious for the environment, and the green economy. As landowners we are determined to play an even greater role in the fight against climate change and nature decline.”
He added: “But the more government asks of us, the more we need guarantees as to the long-term budget, and the more we need confidence that government will provide clear, timely guidance as to what it wants and how it is to be delivered.”
The government claims that the plans will boost the economy and improve public health.
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