The government has set out plans to create new wildlife habitats, restore nature and improve environmental quality in its Environmental Improvement Plan 2023.
The plan builds on the 25 Year Environment Plan, with new powers and duties from the Environment Act, Agriculture Act and Fisheries Act.
Some of the key commitments include 65 to 80% of landowners and farmers adopting nature friendly farming practices on at least 10 to 15% of their land by 2023 through the support of government schemes. They will also be supported to create or restore 30,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2037 and 45,000 miles of hedgerows a year by 2050.
It also sets out plans to restore 400 miles of river through the first round of Landscape Recovery projects, establishing 3,000 hectares of new woodlands along England's rivers and reducing ammonia emissions through incentives in new farming schemes, while considering expanding environmental permitting condition to dairy and intensive beef farms.
The five-year strategy is designed to expand on earlier commitments to improve the environmental quality of air, water and land, and include:
- The creation and restoration of at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats, including 70 new wildlife projects, 25 new or expanded National Nature Reserves and 19 further Nature Recovery Projects.
- Delivery of a clean and plentiful supply of water by tackling leaks, publishing a roadmap to boost household water efficiency and enabling greater sources of supply.
- Challenging councils to improve air quality more quickly and tackle key hotspots.
- Transforming the management of 70% of our countryside by incentivising farmers to adopt nature-friendly practices.
- Boost green growth by creating new jobs, including foresters, farmers, green finance and development roles.
- Ensuring all members of the public will have access to woodlands, wetlands, parks or rivers within a 15-minute walk from their home.
The CLA will provide further analysis on the plan and its targets in due course.
CLA President Mark Tufnell says: “The government is right to be ambitious for the environment, and the green economy. As landowners we are determined to play an even greater role in the fight against climate change and nature decline.
But the more government asks of us, the more we need guarantees as to the long term budget, and the more we need confidence that government will provide clear, timely guidance as to what it wants and how it is to be delivered.
Environment Secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey says:
“Our Environmental Improvement Plan sets out how we will continue to improve our environment here in the UK and around the world. Nature is vital for our survival, crucial to our food security, clean air, and clean water as well as health and well-being benefits.
We have already started the journey and we have seen improvements. We are transforming financial support for farmers and landowners to prioritise improving the environment, we are stepping up on tree planting, we have cleaner air, we have put a spotlight on water quality and rivers and are forcing industry to clean up its act."