Environment Bill given Royal Assent

Long-awaited legislation that pledges to protect and enhance the environment for future generations has been passed into UK law

The Environment Bill has now officially become the Environment Act after passing through Parliament.

It comes more than three years since it was first announced by the government, and almost two years since it was first presented in Parliament.

The Environment Act aims to deliver:

  • Long-term targets to improve air quality, biodiversity, water, and waste reduction and resource efficiency
  • A target on ambient PM2.5 concentrations, the most harmful pollutant to human health
  • A target to halt the decline of nature by 2030
  • Environmental Improvement Plans, including interim targets
  • A cycle of environmental monitoring and reporting
  • Environmental principles embedded in domestic policy making
  • Office for Environmental Protection to uphold environmental law

Incoming CLA President Mark Tufnell said:

“After a long-awaited delay, at long last it’s a real boost for the sector to have the legislation in place.

“The new Act sets out a long-term framework with much ambition for new policies such as Biodiversity Net Gain, and tools such as Local Nature Recovery Strategies and Conservation Covenants – all of which will have an impact on how land is managed by farmers and landowners. Now, it’s important more than ever, that these ambitions are translated into meaningful action, and quickly.”

Looking ahead

The Environment Act includes a new legally binding target on species abundance for 2030, which will help to reverse declines of iconic British species like the hedgehog, red squirrel and water vole.

The Act will also aim to crack down on water companies that discharge sewage into rivers, waterways and coastlines. New duties will also require the government to publish a plan to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows by September 2022 and report to Parliament on the progress towards implementing the plan.

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.”