Today, the government has launched its ‘Environmental Improvement Plan 2023’, which aims to “restore nature, improve environmental quality, and increase the prosperity of our country”.

Photo by Veronica White on Unsplash

The government said that the EIP builds on the 25 Year Environment Plan which was introduced by the Theresa May government in 2018, and uses the regulatory tools made available by the Environment Act, Agriculture Act and the Fisheries Act.

Sarah Mukherjee MBE, CEO of IEMA, said:

“The Environmental Improvement Plan sets out the Government’s approach to delivering our long-term environmental targets and wider green commitments. However, it's important to consider the EIP in the context of environmental targets that lacked ambition in the first place.

“The goal must be for us to exceed the current targets for air quality, biodiversity, water and resource efficiency and to do it more rapidly. The future of our natural environment demands this.

“Achieving the objectives in the EIP will require a whole economy approach to delivery, as well as action across the whole of government. It's disappointing that the implementation of the Policy Statement on Environmental Principles, consulted on in the summer of 2021, will not be embedded into the design and development of new policy across Government until November 2023.”

The government claims that the EIP “provides a comprehensive delivery plan for the government’s approach to halting and then reversing the decline in nature.”

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.”

In the EIP, the government has committed to creating and restoring “at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats,” and improving the “management of 70% of our countryside by incentivising farmers to adopt nature-friendly practices.”

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.”

The Environment Act designated the 25 Year Environment Plan as the first Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP). It created a responsibility for the government to review and revise the plan, if needed, every 5 years to ensure continued progress against the ten 25 YEP goals. This EIP (EIP23) is that revised plan.

Last week Ben Goodwin, head of policy at IEMA, met with Baroness Young, the former chair of the Environment Agency, at a roundtable discussion to consider the then-forthcoming Environmental Improvement Plan. He shared his reflections in a blog here.


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