New Environment Bill Published

21 October 2019

The long awaited Environment Bill was published on 15th October 2019. The government has stated that the Bill will put the environment at the centre of policy making. “It will make sure that we have a cleaner, greener and more resilient country for the next generation.”

The Bill includes details on:

  • creating a new governance framework for the environment
  • creating a framework for legally binding targets
  • moving towards a circular resources and waste economy
  • improving air quality
  • securing our water services
  • enhancing our green spaces
  • updating laws on chemicals (REACH)

Below are five important facts to note regarding the Bill:

  1. Developers must deliver 10 per cent net biodiversity gain through their schemes and guarantee ‘net gain’ for 30 years.

The bill says that a “biodiversity metric” to calculate the “biodiversity value of any habitat” will be published by the secretary of state. The bill confirms that any biodiversity net gain must be maintained for 30 years and this must be policed by the authorities.

  1. Councils must produce “local nature recovery strategies” and administer the system.

Known as “local nature recovery strategies” these will identify where compensatory provision of biodiversity can be delivered. The bill confirms these will include “a statement of biodiversity priorities for the strategy area” and a local habitat map, or if necessary, more than one habitat map for the whole strategy area.

  1. Developers will have to buy “biodiversity credits” if they can’t deliver biodiversity improvements locally.

The bill confirms that the secretary of state “must publish information about the arrangements, including in particular the amount payable for credits” and that the government will use payments received under the scheme for “carrying out works, or securing the carrying out of works, to enhance the biodiversity of habitat on land in England”.

  1. The Environment Bill establishes a new public body – the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) to replace the role of the European Commission after Britain leaves the European Union.

The bill says the new body will have powers of judicial review. It says: “The OEP may apply for judicial review, or a statutory review, in relation to conduct of a public authority (whether or not it has given an information notice or a decision notice to the authority in respect of that conduct) if the OEP considers that the conduct constitutes a serious failure to comply with environmental law.”

  1. The government has confirmed it will “fully fund all new burdens on local authorities” arising from the bill.

A Defra policy statement, published on 15th October, confirmed: “We are committed to working in partnership with local government, businesses and wider stakeholders on the implementation of these measures, to identify and secure the capacity and skills to deliver a cleaner, greener and healthier environment.”

For a copy of the Bill please click here