Government postpones Environment Bill again

The government has again decided to postpone the Environment Bill, which was originally launched in July 2018, as there is too little time to scrutinise it properly.

Campaigners argue that the hold-up will leave people breathing unfit air for longer and that the government will now find it harder to hit targets to improve water, reduce waste and protect wildlife.

Amendments to the planned legislation, which sets long-term binding targets for improving the UK's natural world, are set to be debated by MPs, but it will not return to Parliament until the next Parliamentary session - which is likely to be in the Spring.

The legislation includes legal targets for air quality, biodiversity, water quality, and waste reduction. Because of the delay, it is likely that it may only just scrape through Parliament ahead of the UK’s hosting of the COP26 UN climate conference, scheduled to take place in Edinburgh in November.

Beccy Speight, the RSPB's chief executive, said: "The slow, stop-start nature of the Environment Bill's passage does not help us take the rapid action needed to tackle the nature and climate emergency. Our only hope is that this delay is used to improve the bill. Environmental groups including the RSPB have made a series of measured and sensible improvements, such as legally binding targets to turn the tide on the loss of nature, and these should now be seriously considered.

"These changes would help us get our own house in order at a time when the prime minister wants to show international leadership in the run-up to the key global biodiversity and climate summits later this year."