We strongly welcome the Bill. Government policy is rightly becoming much more ambitious, which means the innovation and insights that environmental technology and services firms have is needed more than ever. They and their investors need a coherent, long term green policy framework to unlock this innovation, and happily the Bill contains the basis of this.
But the Bill is a once in a generation piece of legislation, so we have to get the detail right.
The duty for legally-binding targets across the main environmental areas is good, but lets make sure that the firms EIC represents which are at the forefront of delivering innovation help the SoS in their duty to ensure the targets are ‘achievable’ improvements. It would also be useful to clearly define the overall environmental objectives that the targets were intended to deliver.
The Office of Environmental Protection – the ‘green watchdog’ – must be able to operate independently, with sufficient resources to do its job.
Mr Farrow also commented on the following specific chapters of the draft bill:
- Air: The plans for setting targets are welcome, but the ambition of the Air Quality Strategy needs to be maintained and the requirement to set a target for PM2.5 needs to at least match the pledge in the Strategy to halve the proportion of the population exposed to PM levels above the tough WHO guideline levels. There is also no sign of the proposed additional powers for local authorities to regulate construction site emissions.
- Nature: The including of the requirement for developments to deliver Biodiversity Net Gain is welcome. However the 25 Year Environment Plan talked of going beyond this to full environmental net gain – this needs to be recognised in the Bill.
- Waste: requirement for more consistency of material collected across local authorities, plus extended producer responsibility and powers to change levies on singe use plastics are all welcome.
We look forward to working closely with Government and parliament to ensure that this ground-breaking Bill is as good as it can be and will measure up to the scale and complexity of the environmental challenges we face.