Information on the relevant legislative context in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The current legislative context for England:
- The Environment Act 2021 establishes new environmental governance structures and new measures for environmental protection and nature recovery, including introducing statutory environmental targets as well as a range of provisions to help achieve these, such as biodiversity net gain and local nature recovery strategies.
- 25 Year Environment Plan (25YEP) set out the goals for improving the environment and the EIP 2023 (EIP23) is the first review and refresh of the 25YEP (required every 5 years) and sets out how the UK Government intends to deliver the 25YEP required by the Environment Act 2021. The new EIP23 also highlights the progress made against the ten goals, details specific and new statutory targets, as well as commitments made in relation to each goal. Thriving plants and wildlife is the apex goal, to halt the decline of biodiversity and improve nature. All the other goals help to contribute towards it, with clean air, clean and plentiful water and managing exposure to chemicals and pesticides goals being critical to achieving the apex goal.
- The Agriculture Act 2020 provides a framework to establish compensation schemes to pay land managers for certain land management methods for environmental protection or enhancement through the Future Land Management Schemes (England).
- The Climate Change Strategy 2021-2024 sets out key actions and road maps to reach Net Zero by 2050 under the Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Amendment) Order 2019.
The current legislative context for Northern Ireland:
- The Draft Environment strategy, includes the following goals:
- Excellent Air, Water, Land & Neighbourhood Quality
- Healthy & Accessible Environment & Landscapes Everyone Can Connect With & Enjoy
- Thriving, Resilient & Connected Nature & Wildlife
- Sustainable Production & Consumption On Land & At Sea
- Zero Waste & Highly Developed Circular Economy
- Fair Contribution To UK Net Zero GHG Emissions & Improved Climate Resilience & Adaptability
- The 2021 Future Agricultural Policy Framework Portfolio sets out an agricultural policy framework for Northern Ireland. Four key outcomes: Increased productivity, Environmental sustainability, Improved resilience, and Supply chain functionality. The Future Agricultural Policy Framework is the finalised version.
- The Draft Marine Plan for Northern Ireland
- Additionally, a peatland and an ammonia strategy is to be published this year.
- Broader policy context:
- The draft Green Growth Strategy sits centrally in the Programme for Government 2021 and is the Executive’s overarching multi-decade plan for balancing climate, the environment and our economy.
- Northern Ireland now has its first ever Climate Change Act. It commits Northern Ireland to be net zero for carbon by 2050, and methane emissions to be more than 46% lower than the baseline for methane by 2050.
The current legislative context for Scotland:
- The Environment Strategy for Scotland sets out the long-term vision for Scotland’s environment and the country’s role in tackling the global climate and nature crises.
- The draft of the new Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (December 2022) sets out a strategic vision, milestones for 2030 and outcomes for 2045 that articulate an environment that is restored, thriving and supportive of communities, and a set of priority actions to realise this vision. It is the first element of Scotland’s Biodiversity Delivery Framework that will also include a Natural Environment Bill to enshrine legally binding targets, a series of Five-Year Deliver Plans, an Investment Plan and a Monitoring and Reporting Framework.
- Update to the Climate Change Plan 2018-2032 sets out the Scottish Government’s pathway to new and ambitious targets set by the Climate Change Act 2019.
- Scotland’s Third Land Use Strategy 2021-2026 sets out the vision, objectives and policies to achieve sustainable land use.
- The Blue Economy Vision for Scotland provides a strategic approach for the sustainable management of Scotland’s ocean, sea, coastal and inter-linked freshwater resources. It frames Scotland’s existing and future marine management policies, strategies and plans, including Scotland’s National Marine Plan and Future Fisheries Management Strategy.
The current legislative context for Wales:
- Commitments to resilient ecosystems in Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. With a broad range of topics, it sets out a legal basis of the sustainable development principle for any new policy or legislation to follow. It defines seven well-being goals for public bodies to work towards, including a resilient, a healthier and globally responsible Wales. It also sets out the Welsh requirement for public bodies to adhere to the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR) principles, including adaptive management, multiple benefits and building resilience.
- In October 2022 the recommendations from the Biodiversity Deep Dive were published, with the focus on the CBD target of protecting at least 30% of the land and 30% of the sea by 2030. The aim of these recommendations is to take immediate actions to support the meaningful delivery of the 30by30 target.
- Commitments to sustainably manage natural resources in the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, in particular the duties under Section 6 (biodiversity and resilience of ecosystems), and Section 7 (biodiversity lists and duty to take steps to maintain and enhance biodiversity).
- The main biodiversity policy context:
- 2019–2025 Welsh marine Evidence Strategy setting out high-level, strategic marine evidence priorities for Wales, together with a framework for collecting evidence and improving collaboration.
- 2019 Welsh National Marine Plan – first marine plan with a 20-year view for a sustainable development of Welsh seas (inshore and offshore).
- 2017 Natural Resources Policy – in review after the publication of the new SoNaRR2020.
- 2015 Nature recovery action plan: Our Strategy for Nature
- Part 2 has been refreshed for 2020-21
- Recent broader policy context:
- 2021 WG programme for government 2021–2026 embedding climate and nature emergency across Government Departments.
Last updated March 2023