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Last edited 01 Apr 2021
Environment Bill 2020
On 30 January 2020, the government introduced a far-reaching Environment Bill, previously included in the Queen’s speech. The Bill will enshrine environmental principles in law and introduce measures to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats.
It will also:
- Include a commitment to review the biggest developments in environmental legislation around the world every other year.
- Publish this review and ensure its findings are factored into an Environmental Improvement Plan and environmental target setting process, both of which will be enshrined in law.
- Include a requirement for current and future Ministers to make a statement to Parliament identifying the environmental impacts of all new environmental primary legislation.
- Create legally-binding environmental improvement targets.
- Establish a new independent Office for Environmental Protection to scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action against public authorities.
- Introduce charges for a number of single use plastic items.
- Introduce powers that 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.
- Introduce a power to stop the export of polluting plastic waste to less developed countries.
- Set an ambitious, legally-binding target to reduce fine particulate matter.
- Ensure that local authorities have a clear framework for tackling air pollution and simple-to
- -use powers to address pollution in their areas.
- Mandate that manufacturers recall vehicles and machinery when they do not meet the relevant environmental standards.
- Apply ‘biodiversity net gain’ to ensure new houses are delivered in a way that protects and enhances nature, helping deliver thriving natural spaces for local communities.
- Lay the foundation for a Nature Recovery Network to deliver long-lasting action for nature by establishing Local Nature Recovery Strategies, strengthening the duty on public authorities to enhance biodiversity and giving communities a greater say in the management of street trees.
- Increase sustainable water management by securing long-term, resilient water and wastewater services with powers to direct water companies to work together to meet current and future demand.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “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.”
John Alker, Director of Policy and Places at UKGBC said: “We should not lose sight of the significant achievements of this Bill, it is far-reaching in the issues it seeks to address, and it lays the foundation for a legal framework to deliver environmental recovery. However, the urgency with which action is required means we cannot afford to miss opportunities. Concerns over the adequacy of current proposals on air quality and the detail of the target process; alongside the independence, powers and budget of the Office of Environmental Protection, mean UKGBC will continue to engage closely with the Government to ensure the Bill can deliver on its promise.”
- A Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers: consumers will be incentivised to take their empty drinks containers to return points hosted by retailers.The scheme would cover England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a separate scheme already under development in Scotland.
- Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging: manufacturers will pay the full costs of managing and recycling their packaging waste, with higher fees being levied if packaging is harder to reuse or recycle. The scheme is being developed on a UK-wide basis.
- A third reform will see the introduction of consistent recycling collections for all households and businesses in England
You can see the Bill at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/environment-bill-2020
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