Government advisors critical of progress on Environment Plan

The Natural Capital Committee (NCC) has criticised the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan Progress Report for failing “to provide an assessment of progress”.

On 10 September, the NCC explained that this was down to a lack of a natural capital assets baseline against which progress could be measured. It warned that the Office for Environment Protection (OEP), scheduled to operate from 2021, would be unable to carry out its scrutiny function without one. The NCC further criticised the report for focussing on a long list of actions, rather than providing an assessment of outcomes, stating the status ratings issued for 80% of priority actions in the report were “not fit for purpose” and were supported by “very limited evidence”.

It also expressed concern over the indicator framework, noting there were “serious limitations” with it and how it had been used. It said it had been designed independently of setting targets and milestones, making it difficult – “if not impossible” – to use it to measure outcomes.

In his foreword, NCC Chair, Professor Dieter Helm, said: “From the ad hoc evidence presented in the progress report, not only is there little evidence of progress, but some worrying evidence of declines in environmental quality.”