5 January 2024
Step up for Nature’s Recovery by Taking Five Actions!

I would like to assure you that my ministerial colleagues and I are committed to leaving our environment in a better state than we found it.

As you may be aware, the Government has a legally binding target to halt the decline of nature by 2030, which requires action in our protected sites as vital wildlife havens. In its Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP), Ministers restated its commitment to restore 75 per cent of protected sites to a favourable condition by 2042, while also setting an interim target to check progress by 31 January 2028. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs continues to work closely with Natural England to achieve both of these commitments.

Through the Sustainable Farming Incentive, farmers are financially rewarded to support food production and improve farm productivity and resilience, while also protecting the environment. This includes actions relating to soil health, hedgerow management, providing food and habitats for wildlife, and managing pests and nutrients. These actions will significantly contribute to the Government’s environment and climate targets, including the aim published in the EIP of between 65 and 80 per cent of landowners and farmers adopting nature-friendly farming on at least 10 to 15 per cent of land by 2030.

Regarding green jobs, the UK has attracted around £120 billion investment in renewables since 2010 and expects to attract a further £100 billion investment in net zero by 2030, supporting up to 480,000 jobs. The Government is providing investors with long-term certainty over policy and regulatory frameworks in green industries such as hydrogen, carbon capture, offshore wind and nuclear.

Finally, I welcome Ministers' new ambition that everyone should live within 15 minutes’ walk of a green or blue space. Through the £14.5m ‘Access for All’ programme, the Government has targeted measures to improve access to our protected landscapes and countryside. Defra continues to support and enhance access to the countryside through the King Charles III England Coast Path, which will be the longest waymarked and maintained coast walking route in the world, and is also creating large-scale, publicly accessible woodlands near towns and cities.

I hope these measures have reassured you that the Government is working to protect nature and ensure that it is easily accessible.