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  • by Karma Loveday

Office for Environmental Protection slams government on poor progress for water

The government is not demonstrably on track to meet any of the environmental targets set out in its 2021-22 Environmental Improvement Programme (EIP) for England, and only nine of 32 trends are improving.

That was the conclusion from the Office for Environmental Protection’s (OEP's) independent assessment of progress to improve the environment, in line with the ambition of the Government's 25-Year Environment Plan.

Three of the four goals relating to ‘Clean and plentiful water’ were considered to have remained static and the fourth to have deteriorated. In terms of water targets, the assessment found three were off track, two significantly off track and the final one unable to be assessed.

OEP chair, Dame Glenys Stacey, said progress had “fallen far short” and: “Our assessment shows that the current pace and scale of action will not deliver the changes necessary to significantly improve the environment in England.

However, she said there is a “clear opportunity to change course” when the government publishes its refreshed EIP at the end of this month. The report identified eight attributes that in the OEP’s view will mean the next EIP is effective. It said: "An EIP should:

  • clearly translate vision into policies, commitments and actions for the whole of government;

  • establish clear and simple governance arrangements that drive delivery on the ground;

  • have a unifying overall delivery plan and one for each goal area;

  • set and pursue clear and achievable interim targets that are as ambitious as possible in the areas needing most attention;

  • make clear use of robust and current data and analyses that are well aligned with all targets;

  • establish an evaluation framework and use it to generate feedback on actions and progress, to learn and to improve delivery;

  • use enhanced understanding to diagnose the cause of adverse trends, identify the most urgent, harmful or widespread concerns, and develop effective and timely responses; and

  • develop assessment regimes that look more to the future.


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