The Government this week re-introduced its Environment Bill to Parliament, claiming that measures contained in the legislation would “ensure that local authorities have a clear framework for tackling air pollution and simple to use powers to address pollution in their areas”.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs added that the Government was committing to set an “ambitious, legally-binding” target to reduce fine particulate matter, the pollutant of greatest harm to human health.
Defra said the measures also include:
- Creating legally-binding environmental improvement targets.
- Establishing a new independent Office for Environmental Protection, which will scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action against public authorities, if necessary, to uphold the Government’s environmental standards. The Office will hold the government to account on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
- Introducing new powers to stop the exports of polluting plastic waste to developing countries.
- Committing to review the biggest developments in environmental legislation from around the world every other year. This review will be published and its findings factored into the Government's Environmental Improvement Plan and environmental target setting process.
- Requiring current and future Ministers to make a statement to Parliament identifying environmental impacts of all new environmental primary legislation.
- Ensuring, through ‘biodiversity net gain’, that new houses are delivered in a way which protects and enhances nature.
- Establishing Local Nature Recovery Strategies, strengthening the duty on public authorities to enhance biodiversity and giving communities a greater say in the management of street trees.
- Legislating for conservation covenants to improve long term conservation management.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “We are facing climate change and our precious natural environment is under threat. We need to take decisive action.
“We have set out our pitch to be a world leader on the environment as we leave the EU and the Environment Bill is a crucial part of achieving this aim. It sets a gold standard for improving air quality, protecting nature, increasing recycling and cutting down on plastic waste.”