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Environment Bill announced by Government

30th October 2019

Wayne Grant

Environment Bill Update: 30 October 2019

Since the announcement of the Environment Bill, it has been confirmed that if the government do not achieve their agreed environmental goals, a new regulator is being given the authority to summon government to court. 

However, the key concern is that government will have 15 years to achieve the objectives from the date that these will be set, which isn't until 31 October 2022. Subsequently, no legal action can be taken against government regarding lack of success against any of the environmental targets set by the Bill until 2037.

On the other hand, the Bill does provide opportunity for government to set non-legally binding interim targets against all areas.

However, Rebecca Newsom from Greenpeace UK very much summarised this news when she said: “What good are legally-binding targets if they can’t be enforced for almost two decades?"

In addition, the Environment Bill has now been through Parliament so the next stage is the Public Bill Committee which will examine the full Bill thoroughly and subsequently report back to Parliament. This was initially expected by 19 December 2019, but due to the decision made for a General Election it is doubtful this will materialise. 

We will continue to publish updates regarding the Environment Bill as and when further information is released. 

On 15 October 2019 the government announced their much-anticipated Environment Bill in Parliament 

The Bill includes actions to be implemented to improve air and water quality, crack down on plastic pollution and restore habitats in order for wildlife and plants flourish.

It will also produce legally binding-environmental targets and a new independent Office for Environmental Protection. This office will be based in Bristol, whose purpose will be to scrutinise environmental policy and law, examine complaints and take action against public bodies where needed.

The office’s authority jurisdiction will cover all climate change legislation and hold government to account on its pledge to reach a net of zero emissions by 2050.

As mentioned in the Queen’s Speech yesterday, the Bill will introduce measures to make sure producers take responsibility for the waste they create and develop a consistent approach to recycling. For example, implementing a nation-wide bottle return scheme.

The aim of this Bill is to reduce waste in the long term and create motivation for the reuse of material, aiding the movement towards a more circular economy.

Fresh methods on dealing with waste crime and the prosecution of littering will also be considered.

Our Environment secretary, Theresa Villiers said: “Our landmark Environment Bill leads a green transformation that will help our country to thrive. It positions the UK as a world leader on improving air quality, environmental biodiversity, a more circular economy, and managing our precious water resources in a changing climate.

“Crucially, it also ensures that after Brexit, environmental ambition and accountability are placed more clearly than ever before at the heart of government, both now and in the future.”

The government has faith that placing charges to some single-use products will help to reduce plastic pollution.

Despite it only applying to England, more than half of the Bill’s measures are designed to apply across the UK with the consent of devolved administrations.

It puts the 25-Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing, meaning it will eventually be written into an Act of Parliament.

For queries regarding the Environment Bill or indeed anything policy and consultation related, please don’t hesitate to contact our dedicated Policy Leader Martin Hyde on consultation@complydirect.com