From our landmark plans to deliver a cleaner, greener country, to the billions of pounds made available to improve nature and support communities, businesses and food producers across the country – we’ve been busy delivering on our commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.
Protecting nature and wildlife, supporting farmers and rural communities, and tackling the sources of pollution in our water, land and air continue to be Defra’s key objectives, and here are just some of the ways we’ve made that happen in the past six months:
- Announced an additional £10 million support through the Water Management Grant to fund on-farm reservoirs and better irrigation equipment.
- Made 45,000 visas available for seasonal workers in 2023, providing a boost for the UK’s horticulture industry.
- We launched the £12.5 million robotics and automation competition as part of the Farming Innovation Programme
- Set out all of the details of our farming schemes, designed to make farms profitable, resilient and sustainable food producers while protecting nature and enhancing the environment.
- Announced plans to regulate pig contracts to ensure fairness and transparency across the pig supply chain.
- Doubled money for slurry infrastructure for farmers to £34 million through the Slurry Infrastructure Grant.
- Announced an increase in payment rates for farmers under Countryside Stewardship and the Sustainable Farming Incentive.
- The Secretary of State addressed the NASDA conference in Virginia urging collaboration between the UK and USA to forge a more sustainable future for agriculture.
- Announced £168 million for farmers to drive innovation, improve productivity and support animal health and welfare through greener equipment, robotics and automation.
Water & Air
- Launched an ambitious new Plan for Water to clean up our waters and ensure a plentiful supply for the future.
- Designated four new bathing waters in England, bringing the total to 424.
- Brought forward £1.6 billion of investment from water companies on infrastructure upgrades between now and 2025.
- Announced that sustainable drainage systems will be mandatory on all new build homes in England, reducing the risk of flooding and pollution.
- 53 projects in England allocated more than £26 million of funding to better protect households and businesses from flooding.
- Announced that the target for water companies to reduce storm overflows will be enshrined in law through the Environment Act.
- Announced the first communities in England to receive better flood protection as part of the government’s £100 million Frequently Flooded Allowance.
- Co-chaired the first ever Forum on International Cooperation on Air Pollution in Sweden.
- Councils in England were awarded £10.7 million in funding to improve air quality as part of the annual Air Quality Grant.
Fisheries & Marine
- Increased fishing opportunities secured for the UK fleet in 2023 in the three main negotiation forums to £750 million - a £34 million increase from last year.
- We announced millions in new funding for the fishing industry to train the next generation, through the £100 million UK Seafood Fund.
- Made grants of up to £40,000 available through the £100m UK Seafood Fund to trial greener engine technology in fishing fleets.
- After careful management of the spurdog fish species we enabled stocks to recover to the point where sustainable fishing could commence again.
- Secretary of State attended the Our Oceans Conference, Panama and championed the ’30 by 30’ oceans commitment.
- Opened a consultation to ban sandeel fishing to protect some of England’s most treasured seabirds.
- Announced important marine habitats will be protected from harmful fishing activity in 13 more Marine Protected Areas.
- Announced plans to designate the first three Highly Protect Marine Areas in English waters by July 2023, helping to ensure our ecosystems thrive.
- Passed the Genetic Technology Act into law, unlocking key technologies to improve UK food security
- Signed the International Coffee Agreement 2022 to strengthen the industry and help continue its drive for new standards of sustainability.
- New Forest Pannage Ham is now registered as a Geographical Indication.
- Announced the next steps in our Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers, which will boost recycling and reduce waste.
- Announced a ban on a range of polluting single-use plastics from October 2023.
- Gave Local Authorities an extra £775,000 in funding to tackle fly-tipping in a continued effort to crack down on waste crime.
- Made the microchipping of cats compulsory.
- Field trials for a bovine TB cattle vaccine and skin test moved to the next phase.
- Launched the Animal Health and Welfare Review funded annual visit from a chosen vet or team of vets for farmers, improving productivity as well as animal health and welfare.
- Launched the Nutrient Mitigation Scheme allowing developers to apply for credits to offset the impact and create new wildlife habitat
- A New Green Finance Strategy and Nature Markets Framework to develop growth of green finance was launched.
- Announced £110 million of funding for communities allocated under the Rural England Prosperity Fund.
- Worked across government in support of the Windsor Framework, ensuring businesses and traders have clarity and improved outcomes when trading between GB and NI.
Forestry & Plants
- Announced a ban on the sale of peat-based products in the retail horticultural sector by 2024.
- Re-opened grants to boost domestic tree production with £5 million available for free and seed suppliers
- Half a million pounds provided to our delivery partners of The Queen’s Green Canopy to fund the planting of trees in communities across the country.
- Published the Plant Biosecurity Strategy.
- We introduced new powers, including unlimited fines and prison sentences, as part of a crackdown on illegal tree felling in England.
- We launched the Great Britain Invasive Non-Native Species strategy.
- The Tree Health Pilot is a 3-year scheme which tests different ways of slowing the spread of tree pests and diseases as well as building the resilience of trees across England.
- Made £14 million available to allow both local authorities and community groups to access funds for new tree-planting projects.
Nature & Climate
- Set legally binding targets to protect our environment, clean up our air and rivers and boost nature.
- Announced our Environmental Improvement Plan which sets out delivery plan for building a greener, more prosperous country.
- Announced nearly £30 million to support developing countries in delivering the ‘30by30’ land target and…
- £5 million for projects which showcase the incredible work underway to study and restore nature across our network of Overseas Territories.
- Defra ministers attended the G7 Meeting on Climate, Energy and the Environment in Sapporo, Japan. The G7 leaders agreed a joint statement to tackle global nature loss.
- Hosted a major multinational event at Lancaster House in London to drive forward action on the COP15.
- £16 million of funding for Local Authorities to support plans to make new housing, industrial or commercial developments ‘nature friendly’
- Published the Border Target Operating Model setting out the UK Government’s plan to strengthen our borders against biosecurity threats and illegal imports.
- Hosted a reception at the Natural History Museum for partners ahead for the launch of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
- New climate change hub launched for forestry sector.
- Secured a landmark deal for nature at COP15 in Montreal to protect 30% of our land and ocean by 2030.
- England’s national parks were provided with an additional £4.4 million to support services such as visitor centres and park rangers.
- Took part in global talks at the COP27 summit in Egypt as we work to tackle climate change and reverse biodiversity loss.
To find out more about what we have achieved over the last six months, please see our News and Communications page on gov.uk.