UK Government “Off Track” on Environmental Targets

A new report by the Office for Environmental Protection revealed that the UK government is ‘largely off track’ on almost all of its environmental targets.

Last week, the OEP published its second annual report, stating that progress on approximately half of the UK government’s nature goals are either stagnant or in decline.

The report reveals that, if action is not taken, England will fail to meet its goal of halting nature’s decline by 2030, putting the nation at risk of an ‘irreversible spiral of decline’ in nature.

Of 40 environmental targets under the Environment Act 2021, the government is on track to achieve only four, and ‘way off track’ to achieve ten. Failed policy targets include slow tree planting, the rate of which would need to double to meet the EIP woodland cover target.

Further Delays for Environmental Targets

This report followed the news that the government has delayed the Biodiversity Net Gain legislation for a second time. Initially planned to be introduced in November 2023, the legislation requiring all major development sites to increase biodiversity by 10% is now due to come into effect on February 12th 2024. Biodiversity net gain for small sites has been confirmed for April 2nd 2024.

UK Government 'Off Track' on Environmental Targets

And, just days later, the government approved ’emergency’ authorisation for the use of a pesticide that is known to cause significant harm to bee populations. The neonicotinoid, Thiamethoxam, is known to be lethal to bees, with only a trace amount disrupting their ability to navigate and reproduce. Despite the chemicals being banned in 2018, research published in 2023 revealed that neonicotinoids are present in over 10% of English rivers.

Head of Public Affairs at The Wildlife Trusts, Elliot Chapman-Jones, stated: ‘This report is a wake-up call to the government… We only have six years eft to meet the UK government’s own 2030 deadlines to halt the decline of nature… We desperately need a better plan.”

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