In 2017, the UK Government spent £14.7 billion on protecting the environment.
That’s the estimated figure published as part of a new statistical release from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which shows this accounted for around 1.8% of total government expenditure over the year.
Environmental protection expenditure is defined as all activities and actions that have the primary goal of preventing, reducing and eliminating pollution or “any other degradation of the environment”, including management of sewage, exhaust gases, power plant emissions and the protection of natural landscapes and habitats.
The ONS statistics show this spending more than tripled between 1995 and 2017, increasing from £4.2 billion to £14.7 billion – however, as a proportion of total government spending, it has remained relatively consistent since 2006, ranging from 1.8% to 2.2%.
More than three-quarters of total environmental protection expenditure in 2017 was spent on solid waste management, totalling £11.5 billion.
In the same year, UK businesses spent £2.5 billion on environmental protection, with 40% of this being directed into wastewater management activities.