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The Environmental Improvement Plan (2023) for England

From the desk of Dan Green, Rugby Borough Council Deputy Chief Executive and Climate Change Advocate

The Environmental Improvement Plan (2023) for England


Following on from our recent article relating to the government’s net zero review, this blog focusses on the latest publication from government.

The 25 Year Environment Plan was published in 2018 and set out ten environmental goals to help natures recovery. These included delivering clean air and water, enhancing biodiversity, reducing the risk of harm from environmental hazards and enhancing natural environment. 

Government committed to refreshing the 25 year plan every five years and the Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP), published in January this year, marks that first review.



 UK Government - 25 Year Improvement Plan (2018)



The EIP identifies an ‘apex goal’ of improving nature by halting the decline in our biodiversity so we can achieve thriving plants and wildlife.

To deliver this goal, government commits to:

  • Launching a Species Survival Fund to create, enhance and restore habitats.
  • Creating, restoring, and extending areas for wildlife through projects including new National Nature Reserves, and the next rounds of the Landscape Recovery Projects.
  • Protecting 30% of our land and sea for nature through the Nature Recovery Network and enhanced protections for our marine protected areas.
  • Implementing the Environment Act 2021, including rolling out Local Nature Recovery Strategies to identify areas to create and restore habitat, and Biodiversity Net Gain to enhance the built environment.
  • Supporting a transformation in the management of the countryside by incentivising farmers to adopt nature friendly farming practices.
  • Publishing an updated Green Finance Strategy, setting out the steps needed to leverage in private finance to deliver against these goals.

These commitments correspond well with the objectives and goals set out in Rugby’s Climate Change Strategy with the strategy recognising the importance of the natural environment in reducing the impacts of climate change. 

Rugby Climate Change Strategy - Natural environment 2030 goals

Given the alignment to the goals we have set in Rugby, the government’s commitments in respect of the ‘apex goal’ are very much welcomed.

Underpinning the government’s Apex Goal, the EIP makes various commitments which include:

  • Improving environmental quality and achieve clean air by tackling the key sources of emissions and challenging councils to improve air quality more quickly.
  • Ensuring clean and plentiful water by upgrading wastewater treatment works, restoring 400 miles of river, establishing new woodlands along England’s rivers and ensuring water companies deliver a 50% reduction in leakages by 2050.
  • Improving the use of resources by introducing a deposit return scheme for plastic and metal drinks containers from October 2025, implementing consistent recycling between different councils and banning the supply of single-use plastics from October 2023.
  • Improving the mitigation of climate change by managing the multiple demands on land, developing a new National Adaptation Programme, improving coastal and flood defences and rewarding farmers for actions to reduce risks and impacts from climate change
  • Improving biosecurity, recognising that the risk of pests, pathogens, and invasive non-native species is increasing.
  • Improving the beauty, heritage and engagement of nature by ensuring that everyone should live within 15 minutes walk of a green or blue space, greening the Green, investing in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and National Trails, extending the delivery of the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme and investing in active travel, with a vision for half of all journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030.

UK Government Environment Improvement Plan (2023)

Again, these commitments correlate well to Rugby’s Climate Change Strategy and recognise some of the key challenges we face in delivering the strategy - such as improving local air quality, implementing the changes to waste collections set out in the Environment Act and working with landowners from all sectors in our Borough.

In delivering the EIP, 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.

Whether you live in a city or town, in the countryside or on the coast, join us in our national endeavour to improve the environment.