Defra publishes five-year plan for â€˜delivering a cleaner, healthier environment benefitting people and the economyâ€™
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed its Â£2 billion budget for 2015/16 and set out its priorities over the course of the current parliament.
Defra said its five-year departmental plan from 2015-2020 â€“ released late last week (February 19) â€“ would â€˜deliver a cleaner, healthier environment benefitting people and the economyâ€™.
The plan describes Defraâ€™s objectives for this Parliament and how it is fulfilling commitments made to the public, while also outlining how the Department intends to allocate its Â£2 billion annual budget through a range of air quality, agriculture, flood and environmental protection policies.
After last year agreeing to cut its spending, Defra said it would â€œintegrate policy making with our delivery activities to reduce duplication while maintaining our reputation for evidence-based policy makingâ€.
Defra also announced that it will publish a 25-year plan for the environment before the end of the year, establishing a framework for action in the spring setting out the planâ€™s scope. This plan will establish a series of indicators â€“ including for air quality â€“ to record the Departmentâ€™s progress.
According to Defra, this 25-year plan will be â€œsupported by better use of data and technology, including by opening up Defra data for public access and through a more intelligent, risk-based approach to monitoring, regulation and enforcementâ€.
Defra revealed that it will use changes in exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) to measure the progress on its proposed 25-year plan.
|Â||Mean exposure (ugm3), 2014|
|Rest of England||16|
|Â||Mean exposure (ugm3), 2014|
|Rest of England||11|
These indicators measure the average exposure to pollutants across the population. Data are population-weighted annual mean concentrations (micrograms per cubic metre â€“ ugm3).
It comes amid threat of further legal action against Defra by environmental NGO ClientEarth over the latest air quality plan for the UK â€“ published before Christmas â€“ which pledged to set up â€˜Clean Air Zonesâ€™ in five UK cities by 2020, among other policies (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Defra had already agreed to cut its day-to-day spending on the environment by 15% (see AirQualityNews.com story), while its spending directly earmarked for improving air quality fell by Â£500,000 in 2014/15 (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Expanding on this, Defra said it would â€œsave money for the taxpayer and for business by progressively simplifying our licences and other transactionsâ€ by â€œdesigning services around the needs of users, making full use of digital technologies and rationalising the underlying ITâ€.
The departmental plan released on Friday also states that Defra made the â€œsingle largest contribution to the previous governmentâ€™s Red Tape Challengeâ€.
It adds that â€œbuilding on this success, Defra is developing a portfolio of projects to support the governmentâ€™s Â£10 billion target for reducing regulationâ€ which â€œaims to save businesses Â£470 million over the course of the parliamentâ€.