OEP unimpressed with lack of environmental progress

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has this week published a damning report on the UK Government’s lack of progress on environmental trends and targets.

The OEP says that the Government’s progress on delivery of its 25 Year Environment Plan to improve the environment has “fallen far short” and opportunities to change course must be taken.

The report headlines:

Are Government plans for the environment working?

  1. Our view is that the 25 YEP has so far failed to bring about the changes needed, at the pace and scale required, to meet Government’s stated ambitions for the environment in England.
  2. We assessed 32 trends across the breadth of the natural environment; nine trends were improving, eleven were static, and eight were deteriorating.
  3. We assessed 23 environmental targets and found none where Government’s progress was demonstrably on track.
  4. Climate change is exacerbating the challenge facing government and its impacts are likely to increase.

Why have Government plans not worked and what can be done better?

  1. An effective new EIP (Environmental Improvement Plan) would clearly translate vision into policies, commitments and actions for the whole of government.
  2. An effective new EIP would establish clear governance arrangements that drive delivery on the ground.
  3. An effective new EIP would have a unifying overall delivery plan and one for each goal area.
  4. With new long-term targets set, an effective new EIP would set and pursue clear and achievable interim targets that are as ambitious as possible in the areas needing most attention.
  5. An effective new EIP would make clear use of robust and current data and analyses that are well aligned with all targets.
  6. An effective new EIP would establish an evaluation framework and use it to generate feedback on actions and progress, to learn and to improve delivery.
  7. An effective new EIP would diagnose the cause of adverse trends, identify the most urgent, harmful or widespread concerns, and develop effective and timely responses.
  8. An effective new EIP would develop assessment regimes that look more to the future, anticipate trends and project outcomes.


  1. Overall, we do not think the current pace and scale of action will deliver the changes necessary to improve the environment in England significantly, as required by the Environment Act 2021.
  2. Government must do more to close the gap between the current reality and its vision of the future or it will fail in its ambition. It must act with energy and urgency if it is to deliver significant improvement of the environment in England for the next generation.


  1. Implement the next Environmental Improvement Plan effectively.
  2. Develop and implement clear governance.
  3. Develop and implement unifying delivery plans.
  4. Set and vigorously pursue clear and achievable interim targets that are as ambitious as possible in the areas needing most attention.
  5. Implement an effective monitoring, evaluation and learning framework.

OEP Chair, Dame Glenys Stacey, said:

Progress on delivery of the 25 Year Environment Plan has fallen far short of what is needed to meet Government’s ambition to leave the environment in a better state for future generations.

Jason Reeves, CIEEM’s Head of Policy, noted:

This is a worrying account of Government’s lack of action, especially given the recently agreed Global Biodiversity Framework, in which all signatories (including the UK) have agreed to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2030.