Statement in response to publication of Environmental Targets

OEP Chair Dame Glenys Stacey said: “We welcome the publication of these important targets, and before the end of the year as we advised. The delay was deeply regrettable given that urgent action is needed to protect and improve the environment.

“Ambitious, comprehensive and coherent environmental targets are needed to drive the necessary changes. We will take some time to consider the final targets in detail now, but as an initial reaction we can see that the advice we gave during the consultation has been considered and is reflected in a number of the final targets. 

“In particular, we are pleased that the species abundance targets now include safeguards to achieve nature recovery by 2042. There are a few instances where we would have like to have seen more movement to strengthen targets, such as on the air quality target, where we called for the 2040 deadline to be moved forward to 2030, for example. 

“However, what is most important now is that these targets are used to drive urgent action to significantly improve the environment. Targets are there to set direction and achieve desired outcomes. They must form part of clear delivery plans and given the appropriate resources, with robust monitoring and assessment of progress. 

“We look forward to seeing the government’s refreshed EIP, which should detail how government will galvanise the action necessary to deliver the targets, and must include interim targets, which define the change of pace. It should also clarify how the Environment Act targets will work alongside other pre-existing targets.

“In January we will be publishing our own report on Government’s overall progress in improving the environment. We look forward to moving our focus onto assessing Government’s progress towards these legally-binding targets, including evaluation of the actions taken to achieve them.”

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