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Delivering for people and planet

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In 2018, the government published its 25 Year Environment Plan which outlined 10 overarching goals for improving the environment within a generation. Our world-leading Environment Act followed in 2021, setting clear statutory targets for recovery of the natural world, underpinned by cutting edge science. Now, six years on, and with our first statutory Environmental Improvement Plan in place, we are firmly in delivery mode.

In the last 12 months alone, we’ve taken steps to increase public access to nature, strip out illegal deforestation from our supermarket shelves, boost the UK’s food security, and preserve wildlife-rich habitats across England. You can find out more about the impact we’re having by watching our ‘Defra Delivers’ video series on our YouTube channel.

In the meantime, here are 60 ways we’ve delivered for people, planet and nature:

Supporting our farmers and rural communities

  1. Introduced the Agriculture Act in 2020, which has established environmental land management schemes as the new way we pay farmers for the environmental benefits they achieve while growing our fantastic British food. Already we have more than 15,000 farmers in our flagship Sustainable Farming Incentive.
  2. Announced the largest ever grant offer totalling £427m to boost farm productivity and resilience at the NFU conference in February.
  3. Continued to update our offer in response to farmers’ feedback – including an average 10% increase to the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship payment rates, and around 50 new Environmental Land Management actions this year.
  4. Announced a doubling of the management payment under the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme, putting up to an extra £1000 in farmers’ pockets.
  5. Announced plans to cut bureaucratic red tape around permitted development rights so farmers can easily develop buildings and diversify earnings.
  6. Laid regulations in Parliament to ensure fair and transparent contracts in the dairy sector, with similar regulations to follow for the pig and egg sectors. Announced further reviews into the fresh produce and poultry sectors to ensure farmers and growers receive a fair price for their products.
  7. Announced a new £7 million Community Green Spaces Fund to support communities across the country to create, restore and enhance their green spaces.
  8. Provided £6 million to support village hall improvement projects across England, helping rural areas revitalise these essential community spaces.

Delivering clean and plentiful water

  1. Driven up monitoring of storm overflows so the public can see what is going on – with 100% of storm overflows across England now monitored – up from just 7% in 2010.
  2. Designated new bathing waters and improved the water quality so that 90% now meet the highest standards.
  3. Given Ofwat new powers to toughen up rules on water company dividends so that people's bills never reward environmental damage.
  4. Announced that water bosses will be banned from receiving bonuses if a company commits serious criminal breaches.
  5. Announced a further £75 million in grants to help farmers minimise slurry run off affecting our waterways.
  6. Unlocked nearly £500 million in investments for the development of large-scale water infrastructure such as reservoirs and water transfers schemes.
  7. Accelerated the rollout of around £2.2 billion of new water infrastructure to increase resilience to drought, including a scheme to install 462,000 smart metres by the end of 2025.

Protecting nature and tackling climate change

  1. Created 5 new community forests since 2020 and fired the starting gun on a new Forest for the Nation.
  2. Increased tree planting to its highest rate in almost a decade, with 15 million trees planted in England since 2020
  3. Established over 1,000 miles of the King Charles III England Coast Path which will become the longest managed coastal path in the world once completed.
  4. Funded the creation or improvement of over 90 miles of permissive paths, as part of our farming in Protected Landscapes programme, making it easier for the public to access green space.
  5. Committed over £35 million of funding to restore approximately 27,000 hectares of peatland.
  6. Awarded funding to over 50 projects through our Landscape Recovery Scheme to support farmers and land managers to protect thousands of acres of the English landscape.
  7. Appointed 48 responsible authorities to prepare Local Nature Recovery Strategies, empowering local communities to identify and target nature recovery where it’s most needed.
  8. Funded 20 nature projects across the country to create and restore critical habitat areas equivalent in total to the size of York as part of our £25m Species Survival Fund.
  9. Rallied more than 140 countries, representing over 90 per cent of the world’s forests, to halt and reverse forest loss by the end of this decade, at COP26 in Glasgow.
  10. Played a leading role in driving negotiations at COP15 UN biodiversity summit and securing an international commitment to protect 30% of nature by 2030.
  11. Introduced new legislation to ensure supermarket essentials are not produced on land linked to illegal deforestation.
  12. Announced in March 2020 that the amount invested in flood and coastal erosion schemes would be doubled in England to £5.2 billion between 2021 and 2027 to better protect communities across England from flooding and coastal erosion.

Improving animal welfare and maintaining biosecurity

  1. Established the bovine TB eradication strategy for England, leading to a significant reduction in the disease with 2023 seeing the lowest annual incidence of TB in cattle herds since 2007.
  2. Added XL Bully dogs to the list of banned breeds to safeguard the public from devastating dog attacks.
  3. Introduced compulsory microchipping for cats and dogs, helping to reunite lost and stray pets.
  4. Increased maximum prison sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years and recognised animal sentience in law.
  5. Banned third-party puppy and kitten sales through Lucy’s Law – cracking down on puppy farms and unscrupulous breeders.
  6. Invested £200 million into leading research facilities in Weybridge to combat animal and zoonotic diseases like Salmonella and bird flu.
  7. Developed the world’s largest screening trials for trees that are resistant to ash die-back and planted a living archive of 3000 tolerant trees.

Tackling waste

  1. Taken billions of plastic bags out of circulation with our successful carrier bag charge – cutting single-use plastic bag sales in the main supermarkets by over 98% since 2015.
  2. Introduced one of the world’s toughest bans on microbeads in rinse-off care products in 2018.
  3. Introduced a ban and restrictions on a range of polluting single-use plastic items as part of our goal to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
  4. Introduced a new scheme to make businesses take more responsibility for their packaging materials, so they offer more sustainable options and reduce waste going to landfill.
  5. Set out plans for a new, simpler approach to recycling so that people across England will be able to recycle the same materials with confidence.
  6. Increased on-the-spot fines for litter, graffiti and fly-tipping and ringfencing the proceeds for clean-up and enforcement operations.
  7. Removed charges for household DIY waste to help people dispose of their rubbish responsibly.
  8. Announced plans to crack down on waste criminals by reforming the licencing systems and introducing mandatory digital waste tracking from 2025.

Protecting our marine environment and fishing industry

  1. Introduced the Fisheries Act in 2020, taking back control of our waters for the first time since 1973.
  2. Used our post Brexit freedoms to develop new Fisheries Management Plans for managing the UK’s fish stocks sustainably.
  3. Negotiated fishing deals which are in the best interests of the UK fishing industry, securing 750,000 tonnes of fishing opportunities for the UK fleet in 2024 – 80,000 tonnes more than in 2023 and up to 120,000 tonnes more than we would have received as an EU member state.
  4. Introduced new byelaws in 13 Marine Protected Areas to prevent damaging fishing activities such as bottom towed fishing.
  5. Designated the first 3 Highly Protected Marine Areas in English waters.
  6. Supported the fishing industry to invest in infrastructure, science and innovation, skills and training and exports through the £100 million UK Seafood Fund.
  7. Permanently closed the sandeel fishery in the North Sea to protect our precious seabirds and the wider environment.
  8. Announced a moratorium on deep sea mining to protect ocean and marine ecosystems.

Supporting our food and drinks sectors

  1. Announced an annual Food Security summit to foster industry collaboration based on the successful Farm to Fork Summit at No.10 Downing Street in May 2023.
  2. Created an international network of 16 agri-food attaches to help our world-class exporters sell more of their goods across the globe.
  3. Cut EU red tape and scrapped outdated rules for the wine industry, freeing our domestic wine producers to innovate and grow.
  4. Launched the UK GI scheme, guaranteeing the authenticity and origin of popular traditional British products – from Scotch Whisky to Melton Mowbray Pork Pies.
  5. Passed the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act in England - a major step in reinforcing food security and unlocking innovation.
  6. Set out proposals for fairer food labelling to allow consumers to make more informed decisions at the supermarket and highlight high-quality British produce.

Boosting the green economy

  1. Invested nearly £5 million on projects to boost forestry education and skills.
  2. Delivered a £2.5m training fund which covers the full costs of learning how to plant and manage trees.
  3. Became the first country to legally require major developments to deliver at least a 10% benefit for nature, known as Biodiversity Net Gain.
  4. Helped to mobilise close to £14 billion of public and private finance since 2011 to support our net zero and climate goals.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by alan wightman posted on

    No action DEFRA `paddles´ to little too late for this Government. No less than 14 years `wallowing´ and now awaiting a Labour Government of possibly 10 years.

    Levelling Up´ for the North-east has been minimal. The divide in healthy life expectancy between North-east & South-east has widened.

    Now the cruelist cut of all as now proposed we can transfer our "surplus" water to London in the sense of `Levelling-up´ to the affluent South from the poverty-stricken North! We must assume at no financial gain for users except of course for Northumbria Water shareholders!

    Get out your buckets and spades DEFRA as building resevoirs will take years to construct and your´re not in the same league as the Victorians.