CIEH says UK Government must go ‘much further, much faster’ as it publishes 25 Year Environmental Improvement Plan

01 February 2023, Ciaran Donaghy

CIEH has urged the UK Government to demonstrate greater ambition towards environmental protection following yesterday’s publication of their 25 Year Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP).

The 2023 Environmental Improvement Plan, is the first revision of broad aims laid out in the Environment Act, passed in 2021, and is designed to set out how the UK will protect and restore the natural environment as the UK aims to meet its Net Zero by 2050 ambitions. The main focus of the 25 Year EIP is to:

  • Create and restore at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats, starting with 70 new wildlife projects including 25 new or expanded National Nature Reserves and 19 further Nature Recovery Projects
  • Deliver a clean and plentiful supply of water for people and nature into the future, by tackling leaks, publishing a roadmap to boost household water efficiency, and enabling greater sources of supply
  • Challenge councils to improve air quality more quickly and tackle key hotspots.
  • Transform the management of 70% of our countryside by incentivising farmers to adopt nature-friendly practices.
  • Boost green growth and create new jobs – from foresters and farmers to roles in green finance and research and development.

CIEH have long called for the UK Government to demonstrate greater ambition, particularly with respect to air quality targets, urging them to go much further, much faster. For example, the 25 Year EIP cites that the government wishes to achieve a maximum Annual Mean Concentration Target (AMCT) of 10 micrograms of PM2.5 or below per cubic metre (µg/m3) by 2040, with an interim target of reaching a maximum AMCT of 12 µg/m3 of PM2.5 by the end of January 2028. This is despite evidence suggesting that the long-term target could be met by 2030 if suitable ambitious reforms were implemented.

Furthermore, in our recently published Environmental Health Manifesto, CIEH have called for greater penalties for water companies found guilty of polluting our rivers and coastal areas. While the 25 Year EIP points towards increasing financial penalties for water companies prosecuted for discharging raw sewage, CIEH support the view of the Environment Agency that stricter penalties, including criminal penalties, should be considered for water company bosses guilty of serious pollution.

Ross Matthewman, Head of Policy and Campaigns at CIEH, said:

“At the risk of sounding like a broken record on this issue, we at the CIEH are disappointed with the lack of ambition laid out in the UK Government’s 25 Year Environmental Improvement Plan

It is obvious that the government could and should go much further, much faster if it is to convince the UK public that it takes environmental protection seriously. 

We remain committed to engaging constructively with the government by highlighting the vital role EHPs do in supporting environmental protection efforts and what we are hearing from them on the ground with respect to this vitally important issue. We urge the government to take this issue seriously and show greater ambition going forward.”

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