William Eichler 30 January 2020

Environment Bill to give councils ‘clear framework’ to tackle pollution

Local authorities will have a clear framework for tackling air pollution with the introduction of the Environment Bill, according to the Government.

The Bill, which returned to Parliament today, will ensure the environment is at the heart of all policy making, Number 10 says.

It contains a provision that there will be a review every two years of significant developments in international legislation on the environment and its findings will be factored into the Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan and environmental target setting process.

The new Bill also aims to transform the way waste is managed.

According to the Government, it will introduce a consistent approach to recycling, tackle waste crime, create powers to introduce bottle deposit return schemes and will have more effective litter enforcement.

It also contains a power to stop the export of polluting plastic waste to less developed countries.

‘We have set out our pitch to be a world leader on the environment as we leave the EU and the Environment Bill is a crucial part of achieving this aim. It sets a gold standard for improving air quality, protecting nature, increasing recycling and cutting down on plastic waste,’ said environment secretary Theresa Villiers.

‘This will build on the UK’s strong track record as the first major economy to commit to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and will drive further action in this super year for the environment, culminating in the UK welcoming the world to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in November in Glasgow.’

Environmental campaigners welcomed the Bill but insisted that it ‘must contain more specific and binding measures’.

‘If the government wants to show global leadership on protecting our environment it must set out legal guarantees in the Environment Bill to ensure existing eco-laws aren’t watered down in a post-Brexit world. This bill does not offer that guarantee,’ said Friends of the Earth campaigner, Kierra Box.

‘A strong environmental watchdog is crucial, but will be useless without the resources, independence, and teeth to hold businesses and government to account.

‘Measures to stem the tide of plastic pollution pouring into our environment are certainly welcome, but ministers must get to the heart of the crisis by introducing a binding timetable to phase-out the use of all non-essential single-use plastic.’

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