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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

The Environmental Improvement Plan: Our progress one year on

Photo of a water vole sitting on a branch above water
Water vole - credit Paul Lacey, Natural England

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My name is Rob, and I work in the Environmental Strategy division at Defra. It’s a treat to be writing the first ‘proper’ post on our new blog.

Part of my role involves tracking our activity against the environmental commitments we’ve made.

Since the publication of the Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) 12 months ago today, government has made lots of progress on its commitments.

In fact, we’ve delivered over 50 of them since January 2023.

But this isn’t a solo endeavour. We’ve achieved these through working in partnership with stakeholder organisations, local authorities, businesses and more. We’ll continue to do this as we work towards meeting our environmental targets.

Below is a list of our top achievements, grouped according to the most relevant goal in the EIP. Of course, some of them fit under multiple areas – and all will ultimately contribute to its apex goal, thriving plants and wildlife.

Goal 1: Thriving plants and wildlife

We have:

Goal 2: Clean air

We have:

  • set out our expectations of local councils to improve air quality in the Air Quality Strategy, while continuing grant funding for their action
  • continued working closely with Local Authorities to support the implementation of their Clean Air Plans, including launching Clean Air Zones in Tyneside and Sheffield

Goal 3: Clean and plentiful water

We have:

  • published our Plan for Water to drive more investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement
  • brought forward over £2.2 billion of new investment into infrastructure, with £1.7 billion to tackle storm overflows
  • met our target to have all storm overflows monitored by the end of 2023, and brought coastal and estuary waters into the plans to reduce storm overflow discharges
  • scrapped civil penalties cap for polluters and significantly broadened their scope, to target many more offences
  • placed a statutory duty on water companies to upgrade water treatment works in designated catchments, to help habitats most affected by nutrient pollution

 Goal 4: Managing exposure to chemicals and pesticides

We have:

  • accepted recommendations to protect people and the environment from the potential impacts of PFAS chemicals
  • supported farmers to increase their use of integrated pest management, with new SFI actions, the Defra-funded online IPM planning tool and research to help them access the best tools

Goal 5: Maximise our resources, minimise our waste

We have:

 Goal 6: Using resources from nature sustainably

We have:

 Goal 7: Mitigating and adapting to climate change

We have:

Goal 8: Reduced risk of harm from environmental hazards

 Goal 9: Enhancing biosecurity

We have:

Goal 10: Enhancing beauty, heritage and engagement with the natural environment

We have:

Over the coming years, we will do more to meet its environmental targets. For example, we’ll continue to roll out and scale up our environment land management schemes, bring forward actions to achieve our Plan for Water ambitions, and complete the English Coastal Path to give everyone full access to our amazing coastline.

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  1. Comment by Tom posted on

    Great there's progress on the EIP following the roll out of BNG. A question relating to nature markets framework in your blog. I was considering using the Environmental Benefits Tool as a potential option for biodiversity duty reporting and perhaps also as a first step to assess ENG in respect to a BNG habitat bank and SANG.
    Do you know:
    -if the EB tool will be updated from metric 3 to the statutory biodiversity metric and if the trial indicated that it might be applicable to ENG.

    • Replies to Tom>

      Comment by pollywight posted on

      Thanks for your comment Tom, and apologies for the late response on this - we wanted to make sure we were providing you with an accurate response!
      The EBNT tool is currently being updated to work with the Statutory Biodiversity Metric. An updated version of the tool is due be released in the summer of 2024.
      In the meantime, the current version of the EBNT will accept inputs from the Statutory Biodiversity Metric but will flag errors where habitat names have changed/habitats added (since Biodiversity Metric 3). In such cases, users should be able to manually re-enter affected habitats, by using the closest available option from the existing drop-down lists.
      The latest information on the Environmental Net Gain can be found here, and this includes reference to the Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool.
      For any further information, please contact the EBNT mailbox at
      I hope this helps answer your question.

      Polly Wight
      Blog Team


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