The UK Government has today set out the process that will be used to set legally binding targets under the Environment Bill.
The Environment Bill requires the Government to set long-term targets for air quality, water, waste and biodiversity by October 2022. The Government has today published a policy paper outlining the criteria, scope and process for developing and monitoring progress towards targets.
The proposed scope of biodiversity targets includes the condition of our protected sites (SSSIs) on land; condition of marine protected areas; status of species populations; and habitats restored, created and brought into management for biodiversity on land and in freshwaters. Other target areas are also being explored, including soil health and woodland cover.
Proposed targets will be developed in consultation with independent experts and statutory advisors on the assessment of the evidence and scrutiny of Defra’s analysis on the deliverability and impacts of proposed targets. A public consultation will also take place on proposed targets in early 2022. Targets will then be set through Statutory Instruments in Parliament.
The Environment Bill also requires government to periodically review its targets, by carrying out a Significant Improvement Test at least every five years. The new environmental watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection, will also have to report annually on the progress that has been made in improving the natural environment in accordance with the Environmental Improvement Plan and on progress towards meeting targets.