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17 May 2019

Publish date: 17/05/2019

What do I need to know about the Environment Bill?

The first significant piece of new environmental legislation since the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is due to come into force before the end of 2020. The first draft of the full Bill is set to be published shortly. It is set to have a number of significant impacts on local authorities.

The Bill will put environmental principles such as the polluter pays principle on a statutory footing. Local authorities will need to account for these principles in their decision making processes. Draft guidance explaining the role of the principles and how they should be accounted for is to be published for consultation shortly.

The Bill will create the Office for Environmental Protection. The OEP will take on the oversight role previously fulfilled by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency. The OEP will be able to scrutinise the decisions of local authorities in terms of their compliance with environmental law and will be able to hold local authorities to account; either by bringing judicial review claims if appropriate, and/or possibly being able to seek injunctions to prevent any such breaches.

The Bill will also bring forward new frameworks in relation to:

  • Waste and resources - it will seek to drive a more circular economy approach and will include extended producer responsibility obligations.
  • Air quality – it will create a new national framework to improve air quality and provide local authorities with greater enforcement powers.
  • Natural capital – it will reinforce the requirements to avoid habitat loss and introduce a trading system whereby any impacts that cannot be offset must be paid for.
  • Water – it will introduce a new framework to ensure the preservation of water resources, but also to ensure the sustainable handling of waste water.
  • The Bill will undoubtedly have a significant impact on local authorities and the way they operate. Ensure you follow the progress of the full Bill once published so you can prepare for the impacts it will have on you.

    Simon Colvin

    Partner

    Weightmans

    LLG Corporate Partner