Environment & waste

Infrastructure can help us protect and enhance our environment and safeguard natural resources in the face of climate change.

Updated:

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Summary

There is very little of the natural environment in the UK today that has not been shaped or impacted in some way by human activity and the infrastructure that has been put in place to support it.

Although there have been some major improvements (for example, better water quality in major rivers such as the Thames), trends over the last 60 years looking at environmental measures, such as biodiversity, show a clear decline.
Infrastructure will play a significant role in meeting the UK’s target of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or before. The Commission’s work in this area covers the big challenges and opportunities in moving to a low cost, low carbon future for key utilities, as explored in our energy & net zero theme.
The Second National Infrastructure Assessment makes a range of recommendations across the strategic themes of reaching net zero and supporting climate resilience and the environment. Recommendations cover decarbonising energy and heating, reducing the risks from surface water flooding, and how waste management infrastructure can better support a circular economy.
Our work on transport also helps inform policy making that cuts air pollution and seeks to decarbonise both public transport systems and private road transport, while our work on water and floods helps build community resilience in the face of extreme weather patterns. It is vital that major infrastructure projects consider their Impact on the environment at every stage of their planning and design, as reflected in our design principles for national infrastructure.

In the second Assessment we have also, for the first time, undertaken a quantitative and qualitative risk assessment of the impacts of our recommendations on natural capital. If recommended mitigations are implemented and well designed, we are confident that environmental water quality, air quality and biodiversity will all be improved as a result of our recommendations.

Environment & waste data

Data sets relating to environment & waste are available to review on our Data pages. This includes data sets used in Commission reports, as well as historic data sets. Each can be reviewed online or downloaded.

Review environment & waste data

Latest Updates

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