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Government publishes its five year Environmental Improvement Plan 2023

The Government will today publish its Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 which aims to restore nature, improve environmental quality, and increase the prosperity of our country – delivering on targets set out in the Environment Act.

It builds on the vision set out five years ago in the 25 Year Environment Plan, covering the next five years to 2028, providing a comprehensive delivery plan for the government’s approach to halting and then reversing the decline in nature.

The plan will be unveiled by the Environment Secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey at a keynote speech this morning.

The Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 covers how government will:

  • Create and restore at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats, starting with 70 new wildlife projects including 25 new or expanded National Nature Reserves and 19 further Nature Recovery Projects;
  • Deliver a clean and plentiful supply of water for people and nature into the future, by tackling leaks, publishing a roadmap to boost household water efficiency, and enabling greater sources of supply;
  • Challenge councils to improve air quality more quickly and tackle key hotspots;
  • Transform the management of 70% of our countryside by incentivising farmers to adopt nature-friendly practices; and
  • Boost green growth and create new jobs – from foresters and farmers to roles in green finance and research and development.

The public will also benefit from a new commitment to access green space or water within a 15-minute walk from their home, such as woodlands, wetlands, parks and rivers.

The full Environmental Improvement Plan is now available to view.

Specifically on water, the plan will:

  • Set out 10 actions the Government are taking on water efficiency in new developments and retrofits, including reviewing building regulations and other legislation to address leaky loos and confusing dual flush buttons and to enable new water efficient technologies;
  • Restore 400 miles of river through the first round of Landscape Recovery projects and establishing 3,000 hectares of new woodlands along England’s rivers; and
  • Reform the current regulatory framework to rationalise the number of regulatory plans and create a more efficient system which better enables joined up working to achieve catchment-level outcomes.

Of note for bathroom manufacturers, some of the 10 actions include:

  • A review of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2016 and/or any other relevant legislation to address wasteful product issues with toilets and enable new water efficient technologies.
  • Work with Ofwat to ensure the water industry can play a central role in retrofitting water efficient products in households, businesses, charities and the public sector.
  • Work across government to integrate water efficiency into energy efficiency advice and retrofit programmes.
  • Review the Building Regulations 2010, and the water efficiency, water reuse and drainage standards (regulation 36 and Part G2, H1, H2, H3 of Schedule 1), considering the competence and skills to enable this transition. We will encourage the use of a fittings-based approach linked to the water efficiency label which will be delivered. We will consider a new standard for new homes in England of 105 litres per person per day (l/p/d) and 100 l/p/d where there is a clear local need, such as in areas of serious water stress.
  • Investigate dual pipe systems and water reuse options for new housing development as part of the review of the planning framework.

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.”

Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, said:
“Our Environmental Improvement Plan sets out how we will continue to improve our environment here in the UK and around the world. Nature is vital for our survival, crucial to our food security, clean air, and clean water as well as health and well-being benefits.

“We have already started the journey and we have seen improvements. We are transforming financial support for farmers and landowners to prioritise improving the environment, we are stepping up on tree planting, we have cleaner air, we have put a spotlight on water quality and rivers and are forcing industry to clean up its act.

“Whether you live in a city or town, in the countryside or on the coast, join us in our national endeavour to improve the environment.”

In line with the Environment Act, the Secretary of State, Dr Thérèse Coffey, has published a policy statement on environmental principles, setting out how they are to be interpreted and proportionately applied. The five internationally recognised principles are: integration, prevention, rectification at source, polluter pays, and the precautionary principle.

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