After more than three years, it is finally here. The Environment Bill has been given Royal Assent and become the Environment Act 2021.
It is great that we have got the Bill into legislation and we now have a tool to implement changes in England across environmental sectors including air quality, biodiversity, water, and waste reduction and resource efficiency. The Act includes a target to halt the decline of nature by 2030, and mandates Biodiversity Net Gain for developments.
Biodiversity elements in the Act include:
- 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
Last minute amendments from the House of Lords to strengthen the independence of the green watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), were rejected by Government. Government will now still be able to issue guidance to the OEP on how it enforces policies and legislation.
Jason Reeves, CIEEM’s Head of Policy, said:
This world leading legislation is very welcome. It provides us with a tool to implement changes across environmental sectors, and particularly to halt the decline of biodiversity. We now need to put it into action across government and society to achieve a net zero carbon and nature positive society and economy. Given the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, there is no time to lose.