Published on: 06 February 2020Last week (Thursday 30 January) the Government announced a new Environment Bill to protect and improve the natural environment. The Bill will include a set of legally binding targets which will cover air quality, waste and resource efficiency, water and nature. The Bill also includes plans to establish a new Office of Environmental Protection.
The new Bill will:
Enshrine environmental principles in law
The Bill will enshrine environmental principles in law and introduce legally binding targets in the following four areas: air quality, waste and resource efficiency, water and nature.
The Bill also includes plans to reduce fine particulate matter and ensure local authorities have a clear framework for tackling air pollution. The Bill will give Government the ability to mandate manufacturers recall vehicles and machinery which does not meet the relevant environmental standards.
Learn from other countries
The Bill will include a new commitment to review the biggest developments in environmental legislation from around the world. The Government intends to use the findings from these reviews to inform the development of the UK’s own environmental plans.
The legislation will also introduce a requirement for Ministers to make a statement to Parliament setting out the environmental impacts of all new primary environmental legislation.
Establish a new Office of Environmental Protection
The Bill includes a provision to establish a new independent Office for Environmental Protection. The role of this new office will be to scrutinise environmental policy, investigate complaints and take enforcement action against public authorities, if required.
The office will therefore play a crucial role in holding the Government to account on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Transform the way we manage waste
Through the powers set out in the Bill, Government will transform the way waste is managed and require producers to take more responsibility for the products and materials they place on the market.
This will include producers taking a more active and consistent approach towards recycling.
Finally, the Bill will focus on protecting precious water resources and encouraging water companies to work together to meet demand and make the planning system more robust.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers commented: "We are facing climate change and our precious natural environment is under threat. We need to take decisive action.
We have set out our pitch to be a world leader on the environment as we leave the EU and the Environment Bill is a crucial part of achieving this aim. It sets a gold standard for improving air quality, protecting nature, increasing recycling and cutting down on plastic waste.
This 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.”
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