Government launches the Environment Bill

16 OCTOBER 2019

The Environment Bill has now been launched by the government following its inclusion in the Queen's Speech.

It is extremely wide ranging and see the formation of the Office of Environmental Protection effectively taking on the governance role currently performed by the European Commission. This will be able to hold public bodies to account on all areas of environmental performance including climate change although there are reservations over the fact that it is appointed and accountable to government.

This Bill sets out environmental principles and gives enabling powers to introduce new legislation on the back of the Resources and Waste Strategy. However, it is likely to take up to a year to get on the statute books given the passage of approval it has to go through before Royal Assent. And a year is a lifetime away at the moment when we don't even know what political upheaval there will be in the next week.

In theory, however, this should give an environmentally ambitious government the ability to lay down meaningful targets across a huge range of critical areas and to introduce the legislation necessary to meet those targets.

The Bill was launched yesterday by the current (16th October) Secretary of State for the Environment, Theresa Villiers in a lengthy and robust speech followed by some difficult questions that she dealt with knowledgeably and effectively - including giving a commitment that food standards would not be compromised on the altar of trade deals.