Paddy Fowler
16 October 2019

Environment Bill published

On Tuesday 15 October, the government published the Environment Bill at a launch event at WWT's London Wetland Centre. This long-awaited Bill seeks to tackle the biggest environmental priorities of our time and to begin placing the 25 Year Plan on statutory footing with laws relating to air quality, waste management, nature improvement and water resources. In addition, the Bill introduces a new green watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection, responsible for ensuring public authorities can be held to account if they are found to breach environmental law. One major shortfall for this new watchdog is that it will not be able to fine the government for failing to meet its commitments, as is the case under EU ruling, instead only ensuring that the government is held accountable.

The policies outlined represent an overall optimistic outlook but appear to be falling short on committing to upholding the existing environmental standards as outlined by the European Union. Furthermore, Greenpeace identified a loophole in the Bill allowing government to stall in meeting legally binding targets for up to 18 years. The Bill also introduces powers to establish a deposit return scheme, to hold the producer responsible for the packaging waste they create, and a requirement for highways authorities to consult with members of the public before felling street trees.

For further breakdown of the Bill, consider reading 38 things you need to know about the Environment Bill on the Ends Report website (paywall).

Full Bill (pdf).

You can track the progress of the Bill on the parliament website.