Consultation launched on legally-binding environmental targets

16th March 2022

The UK government has today launched an eight-week consultation on its plans for legally-binding environmental targets.

The proposed long-term targets for air quality, water, biodiversity and waste are a cornerstone of the government’s Environment Act, which passed into law in November last year.

They include cutting exposure to the harmful air pollutant PM2.5 by over a third compared to 2018 levels, and halving the waste that ends up at landfill or incineration by 2042.

Expanding total tree cover by 3% by 2050, and increasing species populations by 10% by 2042, are also among the proposed targets, along with a requirement to reduce pollution from abandoned metal mines in water courses and improve water use efficiency.

It is hoped that the new targets will provide long-term certainty to businesses and society, stimulate innovation and economic growth, and create and support green jobs across the country.

Reacting to the proposals, IEMA's Policy and External Affairs Director, Martin Baxter, said: “The government’s proposed legally-binding targets set environmental outcomes for resource efficiency and waste, biodiversity, water and air quality over various timescales ranging from 2030 to 2050.

“From a business perspective, government needs to give greater clarity on the contribution that will be required from different sectors, and the pace of change that will be needed to ensure the targets are achieved.

“It is critical that these targets join up with current and emerging policy, alongside the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) and cross-government environmental improvement efforts.”

The government has also today set out proposals to restore nature and halt species decline by 2030 in a new Nature Recovery Green Paper.

This includes a rationalised legal framework, supported by local expertise and scientific judgement, to give regulators confidence when making conservation decisions for nature sites.

The government’s response to the Green Paper and environmental targets consultations are expected to be published in early summer 2022.

“We urgently need to halt the decline of biodiversity and move towards a sustainable model that delivers for the economy and the environment,” Baxter continued.

“We welcome publication of the government’s Green Paper as an opportunity to create a new framework of protection for nature and crucially its recovery.

“However, it is vital that nature recovery is prioritised in land use plans, agricultural incentives and water resource management, to make public and private investment in nature’s recovery an incentive to business, alongside taking action on climate change.”

Image credit: iStock


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

IEMA responds to the Office for Environmental Protection consultation

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) ran a consultation earlier this year to gather stakeholders’ views and insights on its strategy and enforcement policy.

26th May 2022

Read more

Sir Partha Dasgupta, author of the landmark Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity, tells Chris Seekings why a new approach is needed to halt and reverse humanity’s destruction of nature

28th January 2022

Read more

The pandemic seems to have focused minds on the importance of green space, says Aona Stuart

27th January 2022

Read more

Beavers are on the comeback, with Scotland making them a protected species and the Westminster government looking at their wider reintroduction. Huw Morris reports on these elite eco-engineers

27th January 2022

Read more

July saw the publication of IEMA’s Principles of Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment, produced in partnership with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Over two million hectares of Brazilian rainforest could be legally converted to supply the UK with soy under a new anti-deforestation law proposed by the government, the WWF has found.

26th August 2021

Read more

The Environment Bill returned to Parliament following the Queen’s speech and is making progress through the House of Lords.

30th July 2021

Read more

The government has announced a delay to the Environment Bill’s passage through Parliament, due to COVID-19 restrictions and a bottleneck of legislation making its way onto the statute book. It is expected that the Bill will receive significant interest in the Lords, and the pause means it will carry over into the next parliamentary session, rather than being rushed through without proper scrutiny, or risking being dropped.

26th March 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close