World Environment Day (5 June) asks citizens of all nations to turn the spotlight on protecting and preserving the natural environment. It is therefore no surprise that in England, the spotlight has fallen on the progress on the 'landmark' Environment Bill, hyped by the Government as the key legislative measure to deliver“the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth”, but which has been stalled since March due to the impact on Parliamentary business caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
Comments by Environment Minister Rebecca Pow in a special Green Alliance podcast to mark World Environment Day have revealed the following:
- The Government remains committed to its environmental agenda: Pow noted that the Bill is “the biggest piece of legislation to go through parliament in the last 20 years” which is a demonstration of the Government's commitment to its manifesto pledge to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.
- Although the Bill currently focuses on four priority areas (air, water, waste and wildlife) it provides a framework to expand to address other areas. The Government's 25 Year Environment Plan - which the Bill would put on a statutory footing - has ten goals.
- On the passage of the Bill and when we can expect Parliamentary scrutiny to resume, Pow said that “We have to talk with the opposition about this and we have to reflect on the delays we’ve had already and how we will address that in the whole programme in the parliamentary business...but I’m very hopeful it will resume before the summer recess.”
- Pow backs Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s commitment to a “green industrial revolution”, commenting that “there is so much scope in the green recovery … It is clear that when we build back the economy, we can shape an economy that is cleaner, that is greener, that makes us more resilient and potentially more self-sufficient …..”
The Environment Bill is the subject of much debate and discussion by environmental lawyers but there is no doubt that it is a 'landmark' piece of legislation. We will be watching its Parliamentary passage closely and will continue to keep clients and contacts informed of its progress. For those in chemicals and manufacturing sectors interested in hearing more, join us for our Chemical Industries Association webinar on the Environment Bill.
Pow pointed out that the flagship bill, which was adjourned during committee stage in March because of the coronavirus, is “the biggest piece of legislation to go through parliament in the last 20 years”