Today the government has set out how it will use ambitious, legally binding targets under its landmark Environment Bill to combat the environmental and climate challenges we face.
We will introduce at least one long-term target in four priority areas to drive significant and lasting environmental improvements, namely cleaner air, cleaner water, less waste and more biodiversity.
To make sure we are continuing to tackle the most pressing or newly emerging issues - further priority areas and targets can be introduced at a later date, informed by the latest scientific evidence.
These long-term targets will be supported by interim targets to ensure we stay on track – these will set out our five-year trajectory, and the government will report annually on our progress.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
The targets we set under our landmark Environment Bill will be the driving force behind our bold action to protect and enhance our natural world - guaranteeing real and lasting progress on some of the biggest environmental issues facing us today.
I hope these targets will provide some much-needed certainty to businesses and society, as we work together to build back better and greener.
To set these ambitious targets, which will also apply to any future governments, Defra will use a robust, evidence-led process in collaboration with independent experts and stakeholders to make sure these are strong, meaningful and environmental outcome focused.
These will build on the significant progress made through the existing commitments in the 25 Year Environment Plan, by identifying further gaps for improvement to tackle some of the serious challenges that remain.
To hold the Government to account, the new environmental watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection, will also report annually on the progress that has been made in improving the natural environment in accordance with these targets.
Once proposed targets are developed, businesses, communities and civil society will have an opportunity to share their views in response to a public consultation that is expected in early 2022.