Publishing his Department's Annual Report, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn reaffirmed Defra's commitment to helping people live within their environmental means and acknowledged the role of staff in some key achievements over the past year.

Hilary Benn said: "Over the past year we have made significant progress on climate change and protecting natural resources. We have seen improvement in the Rural Payments Agency on single farm payments, the tremendous efforts of the Department, Environment Agency and other services' staff during the summer floods and the professional response to disease outbreaks.

"Our two new Public Service Agreement targets show the recognition across government of the importance of tackling climate change and enhancing the natural environment.

"We are committed to tackling climate change, and the Bali Conference demonstrated that there is an international will to act. In the UK, we are bringing in the Climate Change Bill, and helping people to move to a low carbon lifestyle through information, advice and assistance. We are also supporting environmentally friendly farming with the Rural Development Programme, which will invest £3.9 billion over the coming years."

Hilary Benn also highlights the draft Marine Bill and the development of a strategy for the protection and management of water as key achievements.

He added: "Our priority this year and going forward must be to ensure that the resources we need and environment we enjoy continue to be available for us all."

Defra's Departmental Report 2008 is available online at