Last week, the MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston introduced the government’s landmark Environmental Bill to Parliament. The Bill sets out the government’s climate and environment ambitions and will guarantee the government keeps – or raises – the UK’s environment standards post-Brexit.
The new Bill builds on the government’s action to protect the environment, which was clearly set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.
One of the fundamental provisions of the Bill outlines the establishment of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) - a new independent regulator to hold the government and government bodies to account, including through the courts of law if required.
Notably, the creation of the OEP will examine government policy across all departments to ensure the environment is at the center of decision making and hold the government to account on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Through establishing legally binding environment improvement targets, the Bill will also:
- Improve air quality - by setting an ambitious legally binding targets to reduce fine particulate matter and by increasing local powers to address sources of air pollution. This Bill builds on the government’s world-class Clean Air Strategy and improves the outdated Clean Air Act.
- Restore and enhance nature - through ‘biodiversity net gain’ ensure that the new houses the government build are delivered in a way which protects and enhances nature, helping to deliver thriving natural spaces for local communities.
- Transform waste management - through powers to ensure that producers take responsibility for the waste they create, introducing a consistent approach to recycling, tackling waste crime, introducing bottle deposit return schemes and more effective litter enforcement.
- Protect precious water resources - by increasing sustainable water management through securing long-term, resilient water and wastewater services in the face of a changing climate. In addition to introducing measure to prevent environmentally damaging removal of water.
Speaking of the Environment Bill, the Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith said:
“This is a transformative Bill, and a historic response to the crisis affecting our natural environment. It commits this and successive governments to continually enhance and improve the environment, and subjects’ governments and government bodies to real scrutiny by a robust new independent body.”
The introduction of this Bill – announced in the Queens Speech – has been welcomed by many environmental groups and stakeholders.
For further information, please visit the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website here.