The Environment Act – The Most Ambitious Programme on Earth
The Environment Act finally became law on the 9th of November 2021. UK law has now passed legislation to protect and enhance our environment for the future.
Environmental improvement plans have been put in place to deliver long-term targets to improve air quality, biodiversity, water, and waste reduction, and resource efficiency. Some of the targets are to:
- Decline the ambient PM2.5 concentration (the air pollutant that is harmful for people’s health when levels in the air are high.)
- Halt the decline in nature by 2030, which will require new developments to improve or create habitats for nature, and tackle deforestation overseas. Helping to reverse declines of iconic British species like the hedgehog, red squirrel, and water vole.
- Implement measures to help reduce illegal deforestation and protect rainforests by ensuring traceability and sustainability into UK supply chains.
- Reduce water companies from discharging sewage into rivers, waterways, and coastlines. Government plans are to be published on the reduction of sewage discharges from storm overflows in 2022 and report to parliament on the progress towards implementing the plan.
- Transform the way we deal with rubbish by launching consultations on the deposit return schemes for drink containers, extended producer responsibility for packaging, and consistent recycling collections.
The legally binding environmental targets are enforced by a new, independent Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). The OEP will hold government and public bodies to account for their environmental obligations. A cycle of environmental monitoring and reporting. Helping the country transition to a greener economy. Encouraging people to recycle more by making household recycling easier, stopping the export of polluting plastic waste to developing countries, and encouraging businesses to create sustainable packing.
The Environment Act is the “most ambitious programme on earth” said Environment Secretary George Eustice, setting an example for the rest of the world to follow. Part of this new bill is that it is a legislative requirement that all developments will be required to demonstrate and deliver a 10% net gain in biodiversity. It is expected that this will have to be delivered both on and off-site to ensure that the delivery of housing still meets local and national needs.
The Biodiversity Net Gain Partnership has developed a fully auditable online platform for Local Planning Authorities (LPAs), developers, landowners, and their agents to efficiently meet BNG commitments with ease. Connecting individuals and organisations who are wanting to reduce their carbon footprints, with world-leading habitat creation and education programmes around the world.
The UK has recognised nature as a critical factor when considering the environment. Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group (a non-profit organisation focused on providing a sustainable economy) says that “having a framework in place which supports nature restoration and looks at the whole of the environment- including land as well as sea- is a key step forward in the efforts to reverse the decline of nature.”
This is a momentous step forward for the UK in our efforts to tackle climate change. Leading the way for counties around the world to implement serious environmental goals to help restore our biodiversity. We will have to wait and see whether the UK and countries around the world hold the power to deliver these ambitions.
To learn even more about what the Environment Act will deliver in more detail for Water, Clean Air, Nature and Waste and Recycling. Check out our social accounts @bngpartnership.eco on Instagram and BNG Partnership on LinkedIn.
WASTE & RECYCLING
- Extend producer responsibility to make producers pay for 100% of cost of disposal of products, starting with plastic packaging
- A deposit Return Scheme for single use drinks containers
- Charges for single use plastics
- Greater consistency in recycling collections in England
- Electronic waste tracking to monitor waste movements and tackle fly-tipping
- Tackle waste crime
- Power to introduce new resource efficiency information (labelling on the recyclability and durability of products)
- Regulate shipment of hazardous waste
- Ban or restrict export of waste to non-OECD countries
- Require Local Authorities to tackle air quality
- Simplify enforcement within smoke control areas
- Strengthened biodiversity duty
- Biodiversity net gain to ensure developments deliver at least 10% increase in biodiversity
- Local Nature Recovery Strategies to support a Nature Recovery Network
- Duty upon Local Authorities to consult on street tree felling
- Strengthen woodland protection enforcement measures
- Conservation Covenants
- Protected Site Strategies and Species Conservation Strategies to support the design and delivery of strategic approaches to deliver better outcomes for nature
- Prohibit larger UK businesses from using commodities associated with wide-scale deforestation
- Requires regulated businesses to establish a system of due diligence for each regulated commodity used in their supply chain, requires regulated businesses to report on their due diligence, introduces a due diligence enforcement system
- Effective collaboration between water companies through statutory water management plans
- Drainage and sewerage management planning a statutory duty
- Minimise damage water abstraction may cause on environment
- Modernise the process for modifying water and sewerage company licence conditions