Govt Publishes Environmental Improvement Plan 2023
The government has set out its ambitions to improve the environmental quality of England’s land, air and water in its Environmental Improvement Plan 2023, which builds on the vision outlined in its 25 Year Environment Plan, which was published five years ago.
It goes into further detail how the government intends to create and restore a minimum of 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats, as well as how to deliver clean and plentiful water supplies by tackling leaks, boosting household water efficiency and enabling greater sources of supply.
A new commitment has also been made to improve public access to green space or water within a 15-minute walk of domestic properties, including rivers, wetlands, woodlands and parks.
Where water specifically is concerned, the plan sets out ten actions that are being taken on water efficiency in retrofits and new developments. This will include reviewing building regulations and other laws relating to leaking facilities and dual flush buttons in a bid to enable new more efficient technologies.
In addition, some 400 miles of river will be restored through the first round of Landscape Recovery projects, with 3,000 hectares of new woodlands established along watercourses in England.
And the current regulatory framework will be reformed to rationalise the number of regulatory plans and make the system more efficient, a move it is hoped will better enable collaborative working to deliver on catchment level outcomes.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Protecting our natural environment is fundamental to the health, economy and prosperity of our country.
“This plan provides the blueprint for how we will deliver our commitment to leave our environment in a better state than we found it, making sure we drive forward progress with renewed ambition and achieve our target of not just halting, but reversing the decline of nature.”
Under the 25 Year Environment Plan, the aim is to achieve clean and plentiful water by improving at least three-quarters of the nation’s waterways, bringing them as close to their natural state as possible.
This will be done by reducing abstraction from rivers and groundwater, reaching or exceeding objectives for ground and coastal water, lakes and rivers that are specially protected and supporting Ofwat’s ambitions on annual leakage rates.
Here, the aim is to see water companies around the country reduce leakage by at least an average of 15 per cent come the year 2025.
Additionally, the amount of harmful bacteria in designated bathing waters will be minimised by 2030, with action also being taken to improve the cleanliness of waters while ensuring that potential bathers are forewarned of any pollution risks in the short term.
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