DEFRA – Welcome to our first 25YEP Stakeholder Newsletter

DEFRA has issued it’s first 25year Environment Plan Newsletter.

The Newsletter contains updates on the following items:

25 Year Environment Plan Annual Progress Report
The 25 Year Environment Plan Annual Progress Report is coming soon. It will set out the progress made over the last year in improving the environment through our 25 Year Environment Plan and indicator framework. Details of previous reports can be found here

Environment Bill parliamentary progress

  • The Environment Bill concluded Lords Committee stage on Wednesday 14 July. The Bill will commence Lords Report Stage after Summer Recess in September. Lords Report Stage has been scheduled to commence from 6 September with Royal Assent expected in the autumn.  Please see the sitting dates on the Parliament website here.
  • Acting as one of the key vehicles for delivering the bold vision set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Environment Bill brings about urgent and meaningful action to tackle the environmental and climate crisis we are facing. This landmark Bill will enhance wildlife, tackle air pollution, transform how we manage our resources and waste and improve the resilience of water supplies in a changing climate to ensure we leave the environment in a better state than that in which we found it. More information on the Environment Bill can be found here.

COP 26
The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021. The summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Nature day is scheduled for Saturday 6 November, and the full programme can be viewed here.

Research into UK resilience against climate change
On 6 August, BEIS launched a new £5 million research programme to step up the UK’s resilience to the impacts of climate change, such as flooding, heatwaves and extreme weather storms. Find out more here.

Green Recovery Challenge Fund
On 28 July, it was announced that through the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, 90 projects were awarded grants to accelerate action to support 2,500 jobs, plant almost a million trees and boost nature recovery across the country. More information can be found here.

Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF)
On 21 July, we announced the first round of winning projects through the £10 million Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund. A range of pioneering nature projects are to benefit, including restoring kelp forests, creating new woodland, and improving water quality across 27 schemes chosen across England. More information here and here.

Local Nature Recovery Strategy Pilots
On 12 July we published a report summarising the main findings from the 5 Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) pilots. Defra launched the pilots in August 2020 and they ran until May 2021. They were coordinated by Natural England and hosted by Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Buckinghamshire Council, Cornwall Council, Northumberland County Council and Cumbria County Council. The report, which can be viewed here, is organised around 5 themes: preparation of a LNRS; resources and capacity; data and evidence; collaboration to produce a LNRS; use of the LNRS.

Green Jobs Taskforce
The Green Jobs Taskforce, convened by the Business and Education departments last November, published its findings and recommendations on how the UK government, industry and skills sector can best deliver the green jobs and skills of the future. One of the key headlines was that it says that every UK job has the potential to be green.

Glover Review
On 24 June, the Secretary of State for Defra laid a Written Ministerial Statement on the Government’s response to the Landscapes Review, setting out our support for the independent Landscapes Review’s recommendations to improve nature recovery and public access, and bring the family of protected landscapes closer together. We are continuing to work closely with partner organisations to develop our response, and will be consulting on draft proposals later this year.

Water and sewerage companies performance in England
On 13 July the Environment Agency published their report on Water and Sewerage Companies’ Performance in England, which showed that many companies are falling short of the bare minimum standard for protecting the environment. A press release and a link to report can be found here.

Water Sector Green Recovery
On 15 July, Ofwat, in collaboration with Defra, the Environment Agency, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, and CCW, gave the go ahead on water companies delivering a broad range of proposals to help the green economic recovery. Five companies – Severn Trent Water, South Staffs Water, South West Water, Thames Water, and United Utilities will invest an extra £793 million, on top of their existing five-year PR19 packages. Along with seven others in England, they are also bringing forward £1.9 billion worth of investment in additional statutory environment schemes into the 2020-25 period. More information can be found here.

Biodiversity Net Gain

  • On 7 July Natural England launched three new tools to help developers measure biodiversity net gain and ensure new developments are “nature positive”. The new tools received expert input from Natural England, Defra group and industry, building upon feedback from previous versions.
  • Biodiversity Metric 3.0 provides a way of measuring and accounting for nature losses and gains resulting from development or changes in land management. It can be used now and also forms the basis of the metric for measuring biodiversity, as proposed in the Environment Bill. As such, it will also support the delivery of future mandatory biodiversity net gain.
  • The Small Sites Metric (SSM) is a version of Metric 3 that is designed for use on small development sites only. This is a beta test version and we are seeking user feedback on it. More details can be found here. The final version will be published in 2022.
  • The Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool (EBNT) was launched to give developers a way of exploring the benefits habitats bring to people, such as improvements to water quality, flood management services and carbon storage. This is a voluntary tool that compliments the Biodiversity Metric. Unlike the Metric 3 and the SSM, the EBNT is not linked to the Environment Bill. However, it can be used in conjunction with the Metric 3 and we are currently seeking user feedback on the beta version.

Flood and coastal erosion
On 29 July, we published the Flood and coastal erosion risk management policy statement: progress update 2021 – an update on progress towards the government’s goal to create a nation more resilient to future flood and coastal erosion risks. You can read more here.

Blue Planet Fund
On 13 August, we announced the first £16.2 million of funding from the £500 million Blue Planet Fund which will help deliver five new programmes to tackle climate change, restore ocean health and reduce poverty in developing countries. The UK is a global leader in marine protection and the Blue Planet Fund is central to our ambitions to further climate and ocean action ahead of COP26 in November. Find out more here and head over to our Defra social media channels to see the Blue Planet Fund explainer video.

Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs)
On 5 July, we published ecological guidance which will be used by JNCC and Natural England to select an initial list of potential pilot Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs). We are inviting proposals for areas to be considered as pilot HPMAs until 31 August. If you have a proposal, please follow our third-party proposals guidance.

Marine Plans

  • Chapter 5 part 2 of the 25-YEP, “Achieving good environmental status in our seas while allowing marine industries to thrive”, includes the action of achieving a complete set of UK marine plans by 2021. On 23 June 2021, the Marine Management Organisation adopted and published the final four marine plans for English waters. This is a significant milestone and, for the first time, the entire English marine area has an adopted marine plan in place to guide decision-making. Marine plans aim to ensure the right activities take place in the right location and in the right way within the marine environment. Enabling activities and development to coexist and take place in a sustainable way.
  • The North East, North West, South East and South West Marine Plans now sit alongside the previously adopted East and South Marine Plans. Now that the full suite of plans are in place, we will working with marine users to consider how we can further develop the planning process to ensure the sustainable use of the marine environment.

Nature for Climate Fund Tree Programme

  • Through the Nature for Climate Fund Tree Programme, two new Community Forests have been announced as part of a government drive to see tree planting rates treble in England by the end of this Parliament. The new Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest was announced on 23 June, more information here.
  • More recently, on 21 July, Defra, England Community Forests and local councils across the North East area announced a New Community Forest in the North East to support a greener future, and bring people closer to nature in the North East. Further information here.

Farming in Protected Landscape programme
On 1 July, applications opened for the Farming in Protected Landscape programme. The programme provides funding for farmers and land managers in England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to deliver projects that support nature recovery, mitigate the impacts of climate change, provide opportunities for people to access these landscapes, and that support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses. It will run from July 2021 to March 2024, and you can find more information here.

Future Farming Resilience Fund
In July we also announced the opening of the Future Farming Resilience Fund due to be made available in August. More details here.

Funding boost for farmers to tackle water pollution
On 2 August, we announced additional support for farmers to take action to reduce water and air pollution from their land. More details here.

Air Quality

As part of the target setting programme we published advice to inform AQ target development from expert groups AQEG (Air Quality Expert Group) and COMEAP (Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants). This includes advice on technical aspects of targets and latest health evidence.

  1.  Air Quality Targets in the Environment Bill – Defra, UK
  2. Fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5): setting targets – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

UK Statistics on waste
The latest UK Statistics on Waste (and accompanying dataset) were published on 15 July and provide updates on a wide range of waste data. More information can be found here.

Active travel announcement
On 30 July Department for Transport announced a £338 million package to further fuel active travel boom. The package includes funding to build hundreds of miles of high-quality cycle lanes and deliver walking schemes as well as changes to The Highway Code, as part of government’s commitment to build back greener from pandemic. More info here.

Consultations

 

  • Local Nature Recovery Strategies

On 10 August, we opened a consultation on plans for new Local Nature Recovery Strategies across England, as part of the landmark Environment Bill. Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said: “These Local Nature Recovery Strategies will be a key part of our green recovery and help kick-start the creation of over a million acres of joined up habitats which people can enjoy across the country. I urge local authorities and public bodies alike to take part in our consultation and provide views. Once rolled out nationally, Local Nature Recovery Strategies will underpin the Nature Recovery Network – a flagship element of our 25 Year Environment Plan and a key mechanism for knitting these precious habitats together.”

You can submit a response to the consultation here. The deadline is Tuesday 2nd November.

 

  • Water

Two consultations opened on 22 July. The first is a review of the water investment programme to ensure water companies’ money delivers better outcomes for the environment. The second is a consultation on government’s new strategic policy statement for Ofwat, the independent economic regulator of the water industry. More information can be found here.

  • Marine Protected Areas

Also on 22 July, a 10 week consultation on best practice guidance for developing compensatory measures in relation to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) was published. More information here. The consultation closes on 30 Sep 2021.