UK Environment Bill Published

Introduced in the House of Commons on 15/10/19(Bill3)

There is a clear and urgent scientific case and growing public demand for acting decisively to address biodiversity loss and climate change. The Environment Bill is a central part in the government delivering a step-change in environmental protection and recovery. It will also support recent legislation to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by minimising our waste, cleaning our air and water, and restoring habitats to allow plants and wildlife to thrive.
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The Environment Bill will:

  • Establish a new system of green governance and accountability, creating a world-leading environmental watchdog in the Office of Environmental Protection, and enshrining in law Environmental Principles which will embed environmental values at the heart of government policy making.
  • Drive a major shift in maximising resource efficiency, minimising waste, and moving towards a more circular economic model.
  • Enable greater local action on air pollution, ensuring responsibility is shared across local government structures and public bodies; better enabling them to tackle emissions from burning coal and wood; and bringing forward powers for government to mandate recalls of vehicles and machinery when they do not meet relevant legal emission standards.
  • Will secure long-term, resilient water and wastewater services through the water measures in the Bill, making sure that we have a cleaner, greener and more resilient country for the next generation.
  • Will support and enable action to create or restore wildlife rich habitats to enable wildlife to recover and thrive.
  • Will give the Secretary of State the power to amend two pieces of legislation regulating the use of chemicals in the UK (REACH 2008).

Some ‘highlights’ include:

Biodiversity Net Gain (part 6 clauses 88-90)

  • A new general condition to all planning permissions granted in England, subject to exceptions requires that a biodiversity gain plan must be submitted and approved before development may lawfully commence.
  • Extends the duty of public authorities beyond the original NERC Act,which referred only to conservation,so that it includes the enhancement of biodiversity in England. The aim is to provide for the enhancement or improvement of biodiversity, not just its maintenance in its current state.
  • New subsection (1)sets out that, in order to comply with the revised biodiversity duty, a public authority must periodically consider the opportunities available to improve biodiversity, across the full range of its functions.
  • The Bill establish the frequency with which the public authority should consider how it can improve biodiversity and then take action (and) provides that the initial assessment must be completed within one year of the amended duty coming into force.
  • Requires that public authorities consider any relevant Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRSs) as part of their strategic assessment of their functions, establishing the relationship between the two measures.

Local nature recovery strategies for England (part 6, clauses 91-97)

These local plans will include: a description of the plan area and its biodiversity;•a description of the opportunities for recovering or enhancing biodiversity;•the priorities for recovering or enhancing biodiversity; and•proposals of potential measures relating to those priorities. Of course TVNP and our predecessor the Tee Valley Biodiversity Action Plan Partnership have done great work so far that will inform the new strategy for our area. Watch this space for developments…