Environment Agency throws full support behind DEFRA’s controversial targets

The Environment Agency is cheerleading DEFRA's proposed new targets for wildlife, air, water and waste despite green groups reacting to the same goals with dismay.

In its response to DEFRA’s consultation, the agency welcomed the targets and said they provided a “good platform from which to make progress towards the government’s long-term environmental goals”.

The agency said it “strongly supports” DEFRA’s water targets, which have been widely criticised for ignoring a wide range of pollutants and omitting a long-term overarching goal of health. According to the agency, the targets“will complement existing targets by driving action to address some of the main pressures preventing the achievement of good ecological status”. 

It said they will support and mutually reinforce existing targets such as the “outcome-based targets in the form of the 5,000 locally specific water body objectives in River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) and the 25-Year Environment Plan target to improve at least three quarters of England’s waters to be close to their natural state as soon as is practicable”. 

READ MORE: Gaps in DEFRA’s nature metric revealed as evidence backing up environmental targets emerges

On the biodiversity goals, slammed by green groups because they could result in a situation where wildlife is less abundant in 2042 than today, the agency said they would “drive specific action on species recovery and will support the development of clear direction, focus and action to recover species and reverse decline”. 

The agency says the controversial habitats goals will “drive much-needed action on a wider catchment and landscape scale, providing the opportunity to create more, bigger, better and more joined up wildlife rich habitat networks”, the marine target “sets a reasonable level of ambition to drive action to reduce the impact of potentially damaging activities”, and welcomes the much-criticised air quality and waste targets. 

At no point does the Environment Agency offer DEFRA suggestions for improving or strengthening any of the proposals.

DEFRA has extended the deadline to its consultation on the targets to 27 June. 

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