The Environment Bill was introduced into parliament on 15 October 2019. It was re-introduced to parliament following a general election on 30 January 2020. The Environment Bill 2020 sets out how we plan to protect and improve the natural environment in the UK.
Matthew Farrow, EIC Executive Director said: “It’s good to see the Bill brought back to Parliament quickly. It’s nearly there, but needs some further strengthening to be truly world-leading. For example, we need stable markets for environmental technology to unlock innovation and investment – to do this we need binding interim targets as well as long term targets. We also need targets that sit coherently together in a way that EU targets have not always managed – UK air quality policy has been distorted by NOx targets being much tougher to meet than targets for Particulates despite the latter causing more health impacts.
There are also areas where we need more ambition. The 25 Year Environment Plan makes clear that mandatory biodiversity net gain (BNG) for new developments was a stepping stone towards requiring wider environmental net gain. The Bill contains welcome powers to implement BNG but as far as we can see nothing to move us towards wider environmental net gain. And the Bill should commit the UK to remain a member of the European Environment Agency post-Brexit. This does not involve any ‘rule-taking’ but would connect us to the European environmental scientific community – several non-EU Member States are members.
With some strengthening along these lines, the Bill can provide a vital means to ensure that after Brexit we improve and build on, rather than undermine, 40 years of EU-led environmental protection.”