On 15 October 2019, the UK Government introduced a bill to Parliament which aims to tackle the UK’s major environmental priorities.
The mains aims of the Bill are:
- To ensure the environment is central to all government policy making by ensuring that present and future governments are held to account if they fail to uphold their environmental duties, including meeting net-zero by 2050, and wider long-term legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality, water, and resource and waste efficiency established under the Bill.
- To improve air quality by tackling pollution. Provisions include setting a legally-binding target to reduce fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and by increasing local powers to address sources of air pollution, enabling local authorities to work with households to cut harmful pollution from domestic burning by using cleaner fuels. The government will also be empowered to mandate manufacturers to recall vehicles when they do not meet the relevant environmental standards.
- To restore and enhance nature through ‘biodiversity net gain’, ensuring that new houses are delivered in a way which protects and enhances nature. Supporting a Nature Recovery Network by establishing Local Nature Recovery Strategies and giving communities a greater say in the protection of local trees.
- To transform waste management, using powers to ensure that producers take responsibility for the waste they create, introducing a consistent approach to recycling, tackling waste crime, introducing bottle deposit return schemes and more effective litter enforcement. Powers to introduce new charges aim to minimise the use and impacts of single-use plastics.
- To protect water resources by increasing sustainable water management through securing long-term, resilient water and wastewater services and creating powers to direct water companies to work together to meet demand for water.
While the Bill applies directly only to England, more than half of its measures, such as those designed to drive up recycling rate, are designed to apply across the UK, with the consent of the devolved administrations.
Source: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), 15 October 2019