Today’s Environment Bill aims to protect our natural environment for future generations. The return of the Bill to Parliament following December’s General Election highlights the government’s commitment to tackling climate change.
For the first time, the enhanced Bill will create new powers to stop the exports of polluting plastic waste to developing countries. This creates the potential to boost the UK’s domestic recycling system, whilst preventing harmful waste from being shipped out of the country and ensuring further commitment to our Duty of Care with waste.
More broadly, the Environment Bill will secure environmental principles in law and introduce measures to improve water and air quality, as well as restoring habitats so wildlife and plants can thrive. This is in line with the government’s previous commitments to Net Gain for Biodiversity and the 25 Year Environmental Plan.
“We are facing climate change and our precious natural environment is under threat. We need to take decisive action… This [Environment Bill] will build on the UK’s strong track record as the first major economy to commit to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and will drive further action in this super year for the environment, culminating in the UK welcoming the world to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in November in Glasgow.”
– Theresa Villiers, Environment Secretary
As well as the measures outlined above, legislation will create legally-binding environmental improvement targets. A new independent Office for Environmental Protection will be established to investigate complaints, scrutinise environmental policy and taken enforcement against public authorities, if necessary.
The Bill places the ambition of the 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing and creates powers to enhance nature and habitats.
The Bill, included in December’s Queen’s Speech and introduced today, will:
Ensure the environment is at the heart of all government policy making and that this government – and future governments – are held to account if they fail to uphold their environmental duties, including meeting net-zero by 2050 and wider long-term legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality, water, and resource efficiency and waste management that are established under the Bill.
Improve air quality – by introducing measures to reduce pollution so children and young people can live longer healthier lives.
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.
Restore and enhance nature through ‘biodiversity net gain’ and will ensure that new houses are delivered in a way which protects and enhances nature, helping to deliver thriving natural spaces for local communities.
Transform the way we manage our waste – through powers that will require producers to take more responsibility for the products and materials they place on the market, including when they become waste, introducing a consistent approach to recycling, tackling waste crime, creating powers to introduce bottle deposit return schemes and having more effective litter enforcement.
Ensure a two-yearly review of the significant developments in international legislation on the environment to ensure we keep abreast of developments in driving forward our environmental protection legislation.
With such as vast range of experience, no planning consultancy is better suited to tackle climate change as we are. We are happy to work with local authorities, businesses, developers, land owners and communities to ensure that all elements of the planning process make the essential impact to meet the Government’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero by 2050 in fitting with the new Environmental Bill. Contact us to find out how we can help you with the new changes to UK law through the Environment Bill.