OEP powers outlined in landmark Environment Bill
- Central government ,
- Biodiversity ,
- Politics & Economics ,
- Pollution & Waste Management ,
The UK government will today publish its much-anticipated Environment Bill after the landmark legislation was announced in the Queen's Speech yesterday.
The bill will outline powers for a new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) that cover all climate change law, and task the regulator with holding the government to account on reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
Legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality, water, and resource and waste efficiency, will be confirmed, along with requirements for environmental improvement plans.
Charges on a number of single-use plastic items will be introduced, while new measures will extend responsibility for waste disposal to those who produce it.
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.
“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 bill will introduce legally binding targets for fine PM2.5 particulate matter, and increase local powers to address air pollution, such as working with families to help them use cleaner fuels.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that manufacturers would also be forced to recall vehicles when they do not meet relevant environmental standards.
A biodiversity net gain requirement will boost nature on new developments, while recovery strategies will be set up, and local communities given a greater say in the protection of trees.
Moreover, the government plans to introduce a consistent approach to recycling, along with bottle deposit return schemes and more effective litter enforcement.
Increasing sustainable water management through long-term, resilient water services will also be announced, along with new powers that direct water companies to work together to meet current and future demand.
And although the bill applies to England only, more than half of its measures – such as those designed to drive up recycling rates – are designed to apply across the UK.
Much of the policy proposals were developed in collaboration with sustainability body IEMA, such as biodiversity net gain for new developments and extended producer responsibility for plastic waste.
Martin Baxter, IEMA's chief policy advisor, said: “The bill aims to reset the relationship between the environment, society and the economy and we are pleased that government has responded positively to the elements that IEMA and other Broadway Initiative partners have advocated.
“IEMA supports the proposals to set legally binding targets to address air pollution, plastic waste, biodiversity loss and water resources as this will provide much needed certainty to allow businesses and all parts of society to plan, invest and collaborate to substantially improve the environment for the long term.“
“The bill establishes a good baseline for putting sustainability at the heart of our economic model.
“We will work with government and parliamentarians to make the necessary improvements needed to turn the bill into a world-leading legislative framework as it passes through the House of Commons and Lords.“
Image credit: Shutterstock
A group of world-leading climate scientists has today warned that carbon pricing is currently too low to deliver a just transition to a net-zero economy, and that "urgent reforms" are needed.
The UK government has been “too city-focused” in its climate action and must provide more funding and support to reduce emissions in rural areas, the County Councils Network (CCN) has said.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) has urged the UK government to commit to a “simple set of measures” to help local authorities play a greater role in the country's net-zero transition.
COVID-19 offers the world a huge chance to beat a path to sustainability, says Oxford University professor Ian Goldin – but we must learn from past crises, he tells Huw Morris
The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.
The UK's largest defined benefit (DB) pension schemes have received a letter from the Make My Money Matter campaign urging them to set net-zero emission targets ahead of the COP26 climate summit later this year.