The Queens’s Speech 2019 confirmed the Government’s plans to bring forward an Environment Bill, which will include legally binding environmental improvement targets, alongside other measures to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic waste and deliver biodiversity recovery.

Key features of the Bill outlined were:

  • A new long term domestic environmental governance based on: environmental principles; a comprehensive framework for legally-binding targets, a long term plan to deliver environmental improvements; and, a new Office for Environmental Protection.
  • Improving air quality by increasing local powers to address sources of air pollution, enabling local authorities to tackle emissions from burning coal and wood, and bringing forward powers for Government to mandate recalls of vehicles when they do not meet relevant legal emission standards.
  • Restoring and enhancing nature by implementing mandatory biodiversity protections into the planning system, ensuring new houses aren’t built at the expense of nature. Local Nature Recovery Strategies and plans to give communities a greater say in the protection of local trees.
  • Preserving material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy. These measures include extended producer responsibility, a consistent approach to recycling, tackling waste crime, introducing deposit return schemes and more effective litter enforcement.
  • Managing water sustainably through more effective legislation to secure long-term, resilient water and wastewater services. This will include powers to direct water companies to work together to meet current and future demand for water, making planning more robust, and ensuring we are better able to maintain water supplies.

John Alker, Director of Policy and Places at UKGBC, said:

“UKGBC welcomes the Government’s inclusion of the Environment Bill and legally-binding targets in its proposed legislative programme.

“This is what UKGBC called for in a letter – coordinated with Greener UK – which was signed by twenty-three of our leading members from across the built environment.

“As set out in the letter, binding targets will help give the construction and property sector both the confidence and certainty needed to help drive nature’s recovery, and help set a level playing field that enables businesses who do the right thing to be rewarded. However, the true test of these proposals will of course be in their implementation.

We hope that targets to protect and enhance our environment will continue to carry cross-party support.”

The full briefing is available here.