Environment Bill: where are we now?

13th December 2019

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Stephen Bowler

The Environment Bill was published on 15 October – the first new environment act for a generation.

Its proposals are wide-ranging, covering: environmental governance; proposals for Northern Ireland; waste and resource efficiency; air quality and environmental recall; water; nature and biodiversity; and conservation covenants. Many of the specific legislative proposals IEMA has advocated have been brought forward, including a process for setting legally binding long-term environmental targets, extended producer responsibility for packaging waste, and biodiversity net gain for new developments. To develop such a broad package of measures at pace, against the backdrop of Brexit, is impressive, and a credit to those in Defra who have brought this together.

The Bill passed its second reading in Parliament on 28 October unopposed, although MPs acknowledged that improvements will be necessary to address weaknesses. However, the dissolution of Parliament for the general election on 12 December means that the Bill will need to be reintroduced by the next government.

The consensus among stakeholder groups is that this will happen. Timing is likely to depend on which party is in power and what their Brexit approach is. In the meantime, work is under way to identify and propose amendments needed to make the Bill 'world leading' and to translate the legislative provisions into actions on the ground.

We'll keep IEMA members up to date and involved in the next stages as they develop.

Image credit: iStock

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