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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defra-single-departmental-plan-2015-to-2020/single-departmental-plan-2015-to-2020
Total Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) in the financial year 2016 to 2017, which includes £1.7 billion resource DEL and £0.6 billion capital DEL.
Defra plays a critical role in Britain’s current and future prosperity and the wellbeing of everyone in the country. Our purpose is to unleash the economic potential of food and farming, nature and the countryside, champion the environment and provide security against floods, animal and plant diseases and other hazards.
Defra will achieve its commitments by opening up data, using data better as a department, and by better domestic regulation. We will help to boost UK productivity and extend opportunity.
Defra will work smartly and efficiently, focusing on those things that only government can provide. We will empower others by releasing more data, reducing red tape and regulation, enabling innovation, boosting skills and opening up new markets. We will share responsibility by managing risks, costs and incentives in ways that rebalance the relationship between government, individuals and business.
The decision to leave the EU will have implications for Defra in the years ahead. Our long term goals will remain but the means through which we achieve them may change. We will review our commitments under our objectives in more detail following the decision to leave the EU and we will update this single department plan when necessary.
To deliver a strong economy and healthy environment, that provides security and opportunity for all, we will collaborate with others, working closely with the private sector and civil society, acting together across Defra and with the rest of government.
- A cleaner, healthier environment, benefiting people and the economy
- A world-leading food and farming industry
- A thriving rural economy, contributing to national prosperity and wellbeing
- A nation better-protected against floods, animal and plant diseases and other hazards, with strong response and recovery capabilities
- Excellent delivery on time and to budget and with outstanding value for money
- Delivering efficiently: an organisation continually striving to be the best, focussed on outcomes and constantly challenging itself
These objectives are the same as those in the Defra strategy. All indicators within each objective will be updated quarterly unless otherwise stated.
1. A cleaner, healthier environment, benefiting people and the economy
Lead ministers: Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Life Opportunities; and Lord Gardiner, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity
1.1 What Defra is doing
The country’s prosperity, security and wellbeing depend on a healthy natural environment including our landscapes, forests, air, fresh and marine waters and soils and the habitats and wildlife they support (also known as our natural capital). We want every family to have the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from these.
Defra will work with the Natural Capital Committee to develop a comprehensive 25-year plan for the environment. This will:
- help ensure the environment is appropriately maintained and improved so it flourishes and continues to underpin our economic success and wellbeing
- develop the structures and tools to draw together economic, social and scientific evidence and provide practical approaches to enable people to value nature systematically and fully when they are making decisions on the ground and to ensure we get the greatest value from both public and private investment
- integrate delivery and decision-making on environmental quality by using catchments as the building block, driven by local join-up, Defra’s organisational reform and robust action at local level
- bring together business, environmental non-governmental organisations and others to deliver improvements to the environment, harnessing people’s enthusiasm and connecting people with nature
Defra will publish a framework for action on the environment in summer 2016. This will set out the scope of the 25-year plan. Defra will develop the plan by the end of 2016.
Delivery of the 25-year plan will be supported 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 enforcement.
- extend the life of the Natural Capital Committee to at least 2020 (this was completed in February 2016)
- invest in cleaner air and water including tackling air pollution and clearing up our rivers and waterways, and supporting the Thames Tideway Tunnel
- ensure that our public forests and woodland are kept in trust for the nation and plant a further 11 million trees
- invest £100 million capital into a range of projects to support the natural environment, including schemes to remediate contaminated land, restore important peatland habitats and increase woodland planting
- spend £3 billion under the Common Agricultural Policy to enhance England’s countryside
- complete our contribution to the network of marine protected areas including the designation of Marine Conservation Zones around England and support the FCO in their work to create, subject to local support and environmental need, a Blue Belt around the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories
- defend our hard-won Common Fisheries Policy reforms, which include ending the scandalous practice of discarding perfectly edible fish and reforming the quota system so that all commercial species will be fished sustainably by the end of this parliament
- develop new approaches for tackling waste crime, including using £20 million from reform of the Landfill Communities Fund, and for tackling litter (fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping were introduced on 9 May 2016)
- protect the Green Belt (working with the lead Department, DCLG), and maintain national protections for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and other environmental designations
- internationally, protect our global environment and biodiversity, including:
- continue to lead the world in stopping the poaching that kills thousands of rhinos, elephants and tigers each year
- oppose any resumption of commercial whaling and seek further measures to end shark-finning
- promote effective worldwide measures for tuna conservation, press for a total ban on ivory sales and support the Indian government in its efforts to protect the Asian elephant
- press for full ‘endangered species’ status for polar bears and for greater attention to be paid to the impact of climate change in polar regions in the Arctic Council and other international fora
1.2 How Defra is doing
The 25-year plan will establish a series of indicators to record progress. The following indicators for air, water, forests and protected areas cover some of the key areas already measured.
Public exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5) in England
Clean air is vital to our health and our environment, and making our cities attractive places for people to live and work. Defra published the UK Air Quality Plan to reduce NO2 concentrations in our towns and cities in December 2015. This set out a comprehensive government approach for meeting our legal obligations by implementing a new programme of Clean Air Zones in 5 cities (Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Southampton and Derby) and an Ultra-Low Emission Zone in London.
We will use changes in exposure to NO2 and PM2.5 to measure progress.
|Mean exposure (µg m-3), 2014|
|Rest of England||16|
|Mean exposure (µg m-3), 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 - µg m-3). This indicator will be updated annually.
An increase in the length of water courses in England enhanced
Water quality is important - improving our rivers and streams makes natural habitats better for wildlife and safeguards the many jobs and businesses which rely on clean water.
We will measure how many kilometres of fresh waters are enhanced each year in England with a target to improve 8,000 kilometres of waterways by 2021. To date 534 kilometres have been enhanced since 2015.
Woodland creation in England
Woodland provides important habitats for a range of plants and wildlife and plays a valuable role in our recreational activities and in mitigating flood risks.
This indicator measures government funded woodland creation and trees planted under the Rural Development Programme for England. 640,000 trees were planted in 2015 to 2016 and a further 650,000 in the first quarter of 2016 to 2017, bringing the total for this spending review period to 1,290,000 trees.
Protected sites in England
These areas are designated to protect the country’s best landscapes, wildlife sites and habitats. The condition of the protected areas is also important: in 2015, 96% of protected sites on land were in a favourable, or unfavourable but recovering, condition.
These protected areas include Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Ramsar sites (wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention) and Marine Conservation Zones.
The protected area network on land is not expected to change significantly in either extent or condition from year to year. Therefore, for the purposes of this indicator, the focus will be on marine sites and we will monitor the extent of protected areas at sea. The extent of protected sites is assessed in April each year.
Source: England biodiversity indicators
2. A world-leading food and farming industry
Lead officials: Nick Joicey, Director General, Strategy, International, Food and Farming, Defra; Mark Grimshaw, Chief Executive, Rural Payments Agency; and Chris Hadkiss, Chief Executive, Animal and Plant Health Agency
2.1 What Defra is doing
The food and drink industry is central to our long-term economic plan, providing jobs, growth and opportunity. It contributes over £100 billion to the UK - around 7% of the total economy. Food accounts for 17% of all UK manufacturing.
- work with the food, farming and fisheries industries to develop a 25-year plan to grow more and sell more British food at home and abroad. The plan will set out a clear vision for the long-term future of the British food, farming and fisheries industries. The plan will support growth across the country and contribute to the Northern Powerhouse
- set up a Great British Food Unit to promote British food at home and abroad, including opening new markets (this was established in January 2016)
- establish a group of food and drink industry pioneers and partners who will champion the 2016 year of Great British Food and establish the foundations of a 5-year strategic campaign both domestically and internationally (this was established in November 2015). Pioneers will use their individual and collective knowledge as a catalyst for growth, accelerating the creativity, ambition and expertise of our food entrepreneurs
- help treble the number of food and farming apprenticeships, and encourage more skilled graduates to enter the industry, and enable the creation of thousands of jobs
- reduce regulatory burdens on food businesses, including by reducing the number of farm inspections and coordinating these through a Single Farm Inspection Taskforce (this was established in June 2016) building on the single farming helpline launched in October 2015
- push for further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy
- work with HM Treasury to allow farmers to smooth their profits for tax purposes over 5 years, up from the current 2 years, to counter volatility in incomes
- continue to support a science-led approach to GM crops and the use of pesticides
- continue to promote country of origin labelling to inform consumers, particularly for dairy products
- champion the use of the Groceries Code Adjudicator so farmers receive a fair deal from supermarkets
- implement the Common Fisheries Policy reforms, devolve the management of North Sea fisheries to those in the region, including local communities, and re-balance quota towards the inshore fleet
- push to incorporate high animal welfare standards into international trade agreements and reform of Common Agricultural Policy
- press for all EU member states to ensure animals are only sent to slaughterhouses that meet high welfare standards
- guarantee that all central government departments purchase food to British standards of production
2.2 How Defra is doing
Measures of success will be refined further following the launch of the 25-year food and farming plan in 2016.
Value of food and drink exports in the UK
Defra will contribute to the government’s commitment to increase the value of UK exports by helping to strengthen exports of food and drink.
This indicator will be updated annually using HMRC trade data. This will to some extent be influenced by external factors such as the exchange rate.
Source: HMRC overseas trade statistics
Food and farming apprenticeships in England
Defra will contribute to the government’s aim of increasing total apprenticeship starts from 2.2 million during the last parliament, to 3 million during this parliament. Defra’s aim is to treble the number of annual apprenticeship starts in food and farming from around 6,000 in 2014 to 2015 to 18,000 in England by 2020. In the 2014 to 2015 academic year, there were 5,900 food and farming apprenticeship starts. In the first three months of the 2015 to 2016 academic year there have been 2,200 apprenticeship starts.
This indicator includes apprenticeships in the food and drink, agriculture and horticulture frameworks as well as new food and farming employer-led apprenticeships.
Reduce the number of farm visits
Defra’s aim is to reduce the total annual number of farm visits by 20,000 by 2020, without compromising compliance. When this target is in sight, we will explore going further. We will measure the reduction in proposed visits (due to merged visits or policy revisions for example), with data collated each summer.
This indicator includes visits by Animal and Plant Health Agency, Environment Agency, Rural Payments Agency, Food Standards Agency, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Forestry Commission, Natural England and Local Authorities.
3. A thriving rural economy, contributing to national prosperity and wellbeing
Lead ministers: Lord Gardiner, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity and Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Life Opportunities
3.1 What Defra is doing
England’s rural areas are of huge importance to us, contributing substantially to the economy, to wellbeing and to national life.
- help rural areas to prosper and contribute to national prosperity, security and wellbeing
- help ensure people in towns, villages and hamlets have access to the same technology as those in cities, and enjoy the same level of opportunity
- promote rural policy across government and give a strong voice to countryside issues
- aim to complete the coastal path in England by 2020
- deliver marine plans to provide certainty and growth opportunities for maritime businesses
- protect hunting, shooting and fishing, for all the benefits to individuals, the environment and the rural economy that these activities bring, and give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote with a government bill in government time
Defra will do this predominantly through the government’s 10-point plan for boosting productivity in rural areas, set out by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in August 2015, which complements the government’s wider efforts to promote growth. The plan will require collaboration across government, as well as with business and other providers of services to enable:
- extensive, fast and reliable broadband services: delivering superfast broadband of at least 24Mbps to 95% of UK households and businesses by 2017 and, through the option of satellite broadband, by the end of 2015 standard broadband will be available to anyone unable to get a service of at least 2Mbps (DCMS lead)
- high quality, widely available mobile communication (DCMS lead)
- modern transport infrastructure, including through the government’s £15 billion Road Investment Strategy and £38 billion rail investment programme (DfT lead)
- access to high quality education and training (DfE/BIS lead)
- expanded apprenticeships in rural areas, including tripling apprenticeships in food and farming (BIS lead)
- Enterprise Zones in rural areas (DCLG lead)
- better regulation and improved planning for rural businesses (DCLG lead)
- more housing (DCLG lead)
- increased availability of affordable childcare, including through extending free childcare to 30 hours for working parents of 3 and 4-year olds a year early in September 2016 for some areas - including rural ones - ahead of national roll-out in September 2017 (DfE lead)
- devolution of power (DCLG lead)
3.2 How Defra is doing
Rural productivity measured by Gross Value Added (GVA) per workforce job
The Rural Productivity Plan aims to enable faster growth of productivity in rural areas. We will measure this through gross value added per workforce job. This indicator will be affected by wider macroeconomic conditions.
The Rural-Urban Classification of Local Authority Districts 2011 is used to define rural areas.
There are several indicators of government’s plans to boost productivity which will be measured at rural level:
- number of apprenticeship in rural areas - BIS
- number of Enterprise Zones classified as rural or smaller town - DCLG
- net additions to housing stock in rural areas - DCLG
- housing starts in rural areas - DCLG
4. A nation better-protected against floods, animal and plant diseases and other hazards, with strong response and recovery capabilities
Lead ministers: Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Life Opportunities and Lord Gardiner, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity
Lead officials: Nick Joicey, Director General, Strategy, International, Food and Farming, Defra; Sonia Phippard, Director General, Environment and Rural, Defra; Nigel Gibbens, Chief Veterinary Officer; Chris Hadkiss, Chief Executive, Animal and Plant Health Agency; and Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive, Environment Agency
4.1 What Defra is doing
Defra has a critical role in providing the UK with security against a range of natural threats and hazards, including floods and coastal erosion, droughts, animal and plant pests and diseases, and invasive non-native species. In fulfilling this role, we will better align risks and incentives to share responsibility between government and others.
- improve protection against flooding and coastal erosion by:
- contributing to over £200 million of government funding to support the recovery and repair of communities affected by the floods in winter 2015 to 2016
- investing £2.3 billion by 2021, a real terms increase in spending on the last parliament (when we spent £1.7 billion) and on the £1.5 billion spend between 2005 and 2010. This will better protect over 300,000 homes and, together with investment in the last parliament, more than a million acres of prime farmland, from the risk of flooding or coastal erosion by 2021. Partnership funding contributions of £270 million have already been secured; we will continue to work to secure additional contributions for these schemes
- safeguarding the £171 million a year flood defence maintenance funding in real terms while delivering a 10% efficiency target to generate funds to reinvest in improved maintenance
- establishing the National Flood Resilience Review (this was published in February 2016) to consider forecasting and modelling the resilience of key infrastructure alongside longer term flood defence strategy
- taking an integrated approach to flood risk alleviation through the 25-year environment plan using catchments as the building block for decision-making
- help to ensure businesses and individuals can withstand animal and plant pests and diseases by:
- implementing our strategy to achieve Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England by 2038
- maintaining our ability to identify and protect against animal and plant health risks, minimising trade losses and safeguarding our emergency response capabilities. This includes a doubling of investment in our world-class capabilities in science and animal and plant health
- assess all emerging threats to animal, plant and public health and continue to work with the Department of Health and Public Health England to address the threat of antimicrobial resistance
- co-ordinate and manage the government’s central response to major emergencies involving flooding, animal or plant disease outbreaks, and other areas where Defra is the lead government department
- enhance the resilience of businesses and individuals against the impact of drought and loss of water supply
- invest around £130 million capital in Defra’s science facilities
- ban the use of wild animals in circuses
The Welfare at Time of Killing Regulations introduced in England in November 2015 will maintain the long-standing arrangements that protect methods of religious slaughter while maintaining high standards of animal welfare.
4.2 How Defra is doing
We aim to better protect 300,000 homes from flooding and coastal erosion by 2021. Households are better-protected if they move into a lower category of risk, reducing potential economic harm and impacts on families. This indicator is measured quarterly. Our key milestones are:
- between 70,000 and 95,000 additional households better protected by March 2017
- between 120,000 and 180,000 additional households better protected by March 2019
Bovine tuberculosis free cattle herds
Bovine tuberculosis is the biggest animal health challenge our country faces. This indicator measures the proportion of cattle herds in England which are not experiencing an incident of tuberculosis. This indicator is updated quarterly.
5. Excellent delivery on time and to budget and with outstanding value for money
Lead officials: Mark Grimshaw, Chief Executive, Rural Payments Agency; Chris Hadkiss, Chief Executive, APHA; Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive, Environment Agency; James Cross, Chief Executive of Natural England; Clare Moriarty, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Nick Joicey, Director General, Strategy, International, Food and Farming; Betsy Bassis, Director General, Chief Operating Officer; Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser; Mark McLaughlin, Chief Finance Officer; and Nigel Gibbens, Chief Veterinary Officer
5.1 What Defra is doing
Defra delivers a wide and diverse set of services to businesses and the public. This includes paying out over £2 billion of EU money each year to support farmers and the rural economy. Defra will improve the administration of the Common Agricultural Policy, to ensure farmers can apply online, and be paid accurately and promptly at a reduced cost to the taxpayer.
Defra issues around 67,000 animal export certificates and 12,000 plant export certificates per year. This enables British businesses to sell their produce internationally whilst controlling animal and plant disease.
Defra contributes to decisions on over 30,000 planning applications each year. This ensures that Britain can keep building the infrastructure and housing we need, whilst reducing environmental risks including flooding and coastal erosion.
Sound public finances are vital to our economic security and Defra will save money for the taxpayer and for business by progressively simplifying our licences and other transactions. We will do this by designing services around the needs of users, making full use of digital technologies and rationalising the underlying IT.
Defra’s services will:
- be timely and consistent
- offer excellent value for money for taxpayers and businesses
- be high-quality and customer focused
During the last parliament, Defra made the single largest contribution to the previous government’s Red Tape Challenge. Building on this success, Defra is developing a portfolio of projects to support the government’s £10 billion target for reducing regulation. This aims to save businesses £470 million over the course of the parliament.
5.2 How Defra is doing
Percentage of CAP Basic Payment Scheme payments made by March
£1.16 billion was paid to 73,900 farmers by the end of March 2016, 85% of all claims. The remaining 15% of farmers were paid in April and May 2016. The total amount of payments was £1.31 billion to 87,100 farmers.
Percentage of export health certificates/licences issued within agreed service standards
We aim to issue 97% of export health certificates 6 days before export (if the completed application is received 7 days or more before intended export), or within 24 hours (if within 6 days of intended export). This indicator will be updated monthly using Animal and Plant Health Agency data.
Percentage of planning application consultations responded to within the appropriate timescales
Defra’s aim is to manage environmental risk whilst supporting economic growth and security. This indicator details Defra’s performance when acting as a consultee in the planning system against the statutory duty to respond to 95% of planning application consultations from local authorities within 21 days or agreed deadlines.
This indicator includes weighted averages of planning application responses from Natural England and the Environment Agency.
Reducing regulatory burdens to business
Defra will publish a report of its progress in reducing regulatory burdens to business in spring 2017. This will include as indicators of performance:
- net annual savings to business, based (where relevant) on impact assessments independently verified by the Regulatory Policy Committee
- number of regulations improved or abolished as well as the overall net reduction in the number of individual pieces of legislation
6. Delivering efficiently: an organisation continually striving to be the best, focussed on outcomes and constantly challenging itself
Lead officials: Mark Grimshaw, Chief Executive, Rural Payments Agency; Chris Hadkiss, Chief Executive, APHA; Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive, Environment Agency; James Cross, Chief Executive of Natural England; Clare Moriarty, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Sonia Phippard, Director General, Environment and Rural, Defra; Nick Joicey, Director General, Strategy, International, Food and Farming; Betsy Bassis, Director General, Chief Operating Officer; Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser; Mark McLaughlin, Chief Finance Officer; and Nigel Gibbens, Chief Veterinary Officer
6.1 What Defra is doing
As part of the government’s reform agenda, we will become a more modern, streamlined department acting together to do things more strategically and simply and maximise impact. We will achieve this through an ambitious programme of reform which will:
- deliver our Defra Data programme, which includes unlocking 8,000 Defra data sets as open data in its first year, and transforming the way we generate, use and share data
- create a unified operating model for corporate services including a smaller estate and fewer IT systems which are better joined up
- integrate policy making with our delivery activities to reduce duplication while maintaining our reputation for evidence-based policy making
- deliver the government’s commitment to reduce total annual number of farm visits by 20,000 by 2020
- better align the way we are structured locally and better coordinate and streamline our interactions
- reduce the cost of Common Agricultural Policy disallowance (fines applied to EU member states for not demonstrating compliance with EU rules)
6.2 How Defra is working collaboratively across government
We will work with Cabinet Office, HM Treasury and other government departments to deliver transformational change in key areas, including:
- developing digital solutions that meet common standards set by the Government Digital Service and utilise cross-government platforms such as GOV.UK Verify, GOV.UK Pay or GOV.UK Notify as part of departmental digital services wherever this demonstrates the best value money solution for government
- rationalising our estate in a joined-up way, looking to develop ‘government hubs’ with other government departments, releasing land for housing where possible and participating in the development of the new commercial property model
- delivering savings in our commercial relationships including through spend on common goods and services, delivered in partnership with Crown Commercial Services. Continuing to build our commercial capability and working with Crown Commercial Services to deliver the government’s 33% commitment of our spend with SMEs by 2020
- working in partnership with: the Cabinet Office to deliver arms-length body transformation plans; Infrastructure and Projects Authority on major projects programmes and prioritisation; and reducing losses through fraud and error alongside developing a debt management strategy