The UK Government is consulting on new environmental targets.

The Environment Act 2021 requires the Government to set at least one long-term target in each of the following areas: air quality; water; biodiversity; and resource efficiency and waste reduction. It also requires targets to be set for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and species abundance.  

Defra is seeking views until 11th May 2021 on its proposals for:

  • Biodiversity on land and in the sea: the ambition is to halt the decline in species by 2030 and then bend the curve to increase species abundance by 10% by 2042. The Government will create or restore in excess of 500,000 hectares of a range of wildlife-rich habitat outside protected sites by 2042, compared to 2022 levels; Improve our marine environment with 70% of designated features in the MPA network to be in favourable condition by 2042, with the remainder in recovering condition, and additional reporting on changes in individual feature condition; Increase tree canopy and woodland cover from 14.5% to 17.5% of total land area in England by 2050.

  • Water quality and availability: Reduce nutrient pollution in water by reducing phosphorus loading from treated wastewater by 80% by 2037 and reducing nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment from agriculture to the water environment by 40% by 2037; 

  • Resource efficiency and waste reduction: Reduce residual waste (excluding major mineral wastes) kg per capita by 50% by 2042. It is proposed that this will be measured as a reduction from 2019 levels, which are estimated to be approximately 560 kg per capita;

  • Air quality: A maximum annual mean concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) 10 µg/m3 across England by 2040 and a 35% reduction in population exposure to PM2.5 by 2040 (compared to a base year of 2018)

Environment Secretary, George Eustice said:

These proposed targets are intended to set a clear, long-term plan for nature’s recovery. In a post EU era we now have the freedom to move towards a system that focuses on nature’s recovery as well as its preservation, and which places more emphasis on science and less emphasis on legal process. This change in approach will help us in the pursuit of the targets we are setting under the Environment Act.

The BRC will be looking at submitting a response to this consultation, interested members are invited to get in touch with nadiya.catel-arutyunova@brc.org.uk