Welcome to the October policy update.
Shaping the new UK Environment Bill has been a major focus for our policy work over the past year – both in terms of Society activity and in our capacity as Secretariat and member of the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF), a network of Professional Bodies working to influence environmental policy and its formulation. We were therefore pleased to see the Bill presented to Parliament by the UK Government earlier this month. We are still in the process of analysing the Bill in full, but welcome key elements of the Bill which reflect some of our biggest asks in ensuring the future of UK environmental standards post-Brexit.
As a signatory to the Broadway Initiative's 'Assurances for an Environment Act' and to EPF submissions to Government, the Society had called for the Bill to include robust targets to give weight and credibility to the Bill’s environmental principles and for the adequate enforcement of climate change law – reflecting what it is a vital element of environmental law and standards.
Earlier this month SocEnv supported an EPF letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, calling on him to back the inclusion of a number of measures, including the introduction of robust air quality targets. This is reflected in the Bill’s inclusion of a legally binding target on reducing fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the atmosphere, as well as legally binding targets in other areas such as water; biodiversity and resources and waste. It was also great to see the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), the new environmental watchdog, given the responsibility for enforcing climate change law.
The powers outlined in the Bill also lay the framework for the delivery of policies such as a proposed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain and we await further details on how these will be implemented.
For more insight into recent activity and developments, make sure to catch up with our latest podcast, where we interview Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Adviser at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), a key figure in the EPF and the Broadway Initiative’s efforts to shape the Environment Bill.
During the Bill’s passage through Parliament, we will continue to work to gain greater clarity on elements where we still have some concern, including the process by which environmental targets are set and the independence of the OEP, which needs to be guaranteed in order to fully hold Government to account.
All EPF submissions are available via our website at https://www.envpolicyforum.org.uk/, where you can also view our latest news, find out more about what we do and sign up for our latest updates!
Sarah Ridgeon, Policy and Communications Officer