The Environmental Bill

The Government has introduced, potentially, the most significant development in environmental law since 1990.

With the announcement of the draft Environment Bill in the Queen’s Speech, and the draft Bill’s subsequent publication the following day, the Government has introduced, potentially, the most significant development in environmental law since 1990.

The Government’s stated aim is to maintain and improve environmental protection as the country moves to leave the EU and the Bill promises to have a major and wide ranging impact in respect of all sections of society including public bodies and businesses of all sizes.  

The Bill proposes to confer on the Government the power to set long-term targets in respect of any matter which relates to the natural environment or people’s enjoyment of the natural environment. Within this wide ambit, water, biodiversity, resource efficiency and waste reduction are identified as priorities and the Bill also stipulates that the Government must set long term targets in respect of each of these areas.

Other highlights of the Bill are:

  • The establishment of a “world leading environmental body”, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP)
  • The introduction of a “clear set of environmental principles” to guide Government policymaking
  • The placing of the Government’s 25-year environmental plan on a statutory footing.

The target date for the implementation of the Bill is December 2020, but at present much is still dependent on the outcome of the current Brexit negotiations, and the Bill may be subject to amendment.

To discuss the potential impact of the Environment Bill on you, your organisation and your sector please contact Simon Colvin, Partner in our Environmental Team on 0345 073 9900.

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