Parliament passes Environment Bill

Parliament passed the Environment Bill last night (10 November), meaning the legislation is now UK law. 

The bill had been held up as ministers and peers debated sewage discharges

During a debate in the Lords, peers had sought further strengthening of laws around the disposal of sewage into rivers, which held up the bill’s approval.

However, ministers put forward an alternative which was eventually passed.

Defra explained that the Environment Act will help the “transition to a more circular economy, incentivising people to recycle more, encouraging businesses to create sustainable packaging, making household recycling easier and stopping the export of polluting plastic waste to developing countries”.

These changes will be driven by new legally binding environmental targets, and enforced by a new, independent Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) which will hold government and public bodies to account on their environmental obligations.

While ministers praised the Lords for helping them shape the bill, some campaigners said it doesn’t go far enough on issues such as sewage discharge and government accountability.

“We are setting an example for the rest of the world to follow” – George Eustice, Defra

World leading

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “The Environment Act will deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth.

“It will halt the decline of species by 2030, clean up our air and protect the health of our rivers, reform the way in which we deal with waste and tackle deforestation overseas.

“We are setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.”

Legislation

The Environment Act will give ministers the power to introduce a range of waste reforms such as extended producer responsibility, consistent collections and a deposit return scheme.

Defra is currently working on consultation responses, which are due out early next year.

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