Environment Bill progresses through House of Lords
- Global Environment and Social Assessment
The Environment Bill returned to Parliament following the Queen’s speech and is making progress through the House of Lords.
The government has added amendments to the Bill to introduce new provisions or provide clarity, including:
- Environmental Due-Diligence for Forest Commodity Products
- A new legally binding target on species abundance in England for 2030 – to be set through the target-setting process
- Wide-ranging powers to ‘refocus’ the habitats regulations in England
- New duties will require government to publish a plan to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows by September 2022, and report to parliament on progress towards implementing the plan
- Biodiversity net gain will be extended to include all nationally significant infrastructure projects
- Devolution-focused amendments to support environmental co-operation across the UK and to provide clarity on UK-retained powers.
Meeting the Bill’s long-term environmental targets, as well as the net-zero target, depends heavily on early investment and action from business. This, in turn, requires clear public policy signals that can drive private investment at pace and scale, and at low cost. There are areas where the Bill could be better; we have been liaising with peers on potential amendments, and have met with Defra minister Lord Goldsmith to discuss how aspects might be improved.
We will keep members updated, and when the Bill receives Royal Assent (expected in the autumn) we will provide a full briefing and analysis.
Environment Bill governance provisions in Northern Irelandm
IEMA is a core member of the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF), a grouping of professional bodies and learned societies that collaborate to influence environmental policy. Through EPF, we ran a series of engagement sessions on the Environment Bill governance provisions in Northern Ireland to allow members to explore key aspects of the Bill and how to support long-term environmental improvement.
Representatives of Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs engaged in all sessions, and participants’ feedback is helping to shape how the Bill will be implemented.
Image credit: iStock
The government has announced a delay to the Environment Bill’s passage through Parliament, due to COVID-19 restrictions and a bottleneck of legislation making its way onto the statute book. It is expected that the Bill will receive significant interest in the Lords, and the pause means it will carry over into the next parliamentary session, rather than being rushed through without proper scrutiny, or risking being dropped.
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