Environmental Targets (UK)

Late today the UK Government announced its delayed proposals for targets (under the Environment Act 2021) – 13 targets will be laid by statutory instrument – here – they will go live in 2023 once approved by Parliament – this is a link to England’s biodiversity indicators –

Biodiversity on land

  • To halt the decline in species abundance by 2030.
  • To ensure that species abundance in 2042 is greater than in 2022, and at least 10% greater than 2030.
  • Improve the Red List Index for England for species extinction risk by 2042, compared to 2022 levels.
  • To restore or create in excess of 500,000 hectares of a range of wildlife-rich habitat outside protected sites by 2042, compared to 2022 levels.

Biodiversity in the sea 

  • 70% of the designated features in the MPA network to be in favourable condition by 2042, with the remainder in recovering condition.

Water quality and availability 

  • Abandoned metal mines target: Halve the length of rivers polluted by harmful metals from abandoned mines by 2038, against a baseline of around 1,500 km.
  • Agriculture target: Reduce nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and sediment pollution from agriculture into the water environment by at least 40% by 2038, compared to a 2018 baseline.
  • Wastewater target: Reduce phosphorus loadings from treated wastewater by 80% by 2038 against a 2020 baseline.
  • Water Demand Target: Reduce the use of public water supply in England per head of population by 20% from the 2019/20 baseline reporting year figures, by 2037/38.

Woodland cover 

  • Increase total tree and woodland cover from 14.5% of land area now to 16.5% by 2050.

Resource efficiency and waste reduction 

  • Reduce residual waste (excluding major mineral wastes) kg per capita by 50% by 2042 from 2019 levels.

Air quality 

  • An Annual Mean Concentration Target for PM2.5 levels in England to be 10 µg m-3 or below by 2040.
  • A Population Exposure Reduction Target for a reduction in PM2.5 population exposure of 35% compared to 2018 to be achieved by 2040.

The announcement states the UK Government will set out more details about its plans to deliver these targets in its Environmental Improvement Plan: its manifesto for the environment for the next 5 years. Publication will be by 31 January, as required by law.

There are no targets announced for –

* River or groundwater health (existing legislation is listed for deletion in GB under the Removal of REUL Project)

* Protected nature sites (much of the existing legislation is listed for deletion in GB under the Removal of REUL Project)

* Resource efficiency (existing legislation is listed for deletion in GB under the Removal of REUL Project)