New Environment Bill introduced by ministers

The government is introducing a landmark Bill to Parliament to tackle the biggest environmental priorities of our time, to help ensure the country maintains its environmental protections beyond membership of the EU.

It means that environmental principles will be enshrined in law and measures will be introduced to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers also announced that a new independent Office for Environmental Protection will be established to scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action against public authorities, if necessary, to uphold our environmental standards. The office will hold the government to account on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, will also increase local powers to address sources of air pollution, enabling local authorities to work with families to cut harmful pollution from domestic burning by using cleaner fuels, give communities a greater say in the protection of local trees, and transform the way we manage our waste by introducing a consistent approach to recycling, tackling waste crime, introducing bottle deposit return schemes and more effective litter enforcement.

Villiers said: “Our natural environment is a vital shared resource and the need to act to secure it for generations to come is clear. That’s why our landmark Environment Bill leads a green transformation that will help our country to thrive. It positions the UK as a world leader on improving air quality, environmental biodiversity, a more circular economy, and managing our precious water resources in a changing climate. Crucially, it also ensures that after Brexit, environmental ambition and accountability are placed more clearly than ever before at the heart of government, both now and in the future.”