After the general election prevented the progress of bills through parliament, the Environment Bill was this week reintroduced to the UK parliament. The Bill is intended to ‘put the environment at the centre of policy making’, ensuring that ‘we have a cleaner, greener and more resilient country for the next generation’.
The Bill introduces measures to address a wide range of environmental issues, including environmental governance, resources and waste management, air quality, water resources, nature and green spaces, and chemical regulation. However, it is worth highlighting a few key measures of particular relevance to the work of Local Nature Partnerships:
- The Environment Bill introduces mandatory biodiversity net gain, whereby new developments will be required to ensure that they result in a net gain (of at least 10%) in biodiversity. This should both help facilitate nature’s recovery and deliver thriving natural spaces for communities.
- The Bill includes a provision for the development of Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRSs) across England, which are intended to improve spatial planning for nature’s recovery by setting out ‘priorities and opportunities for protecting and investing in nature within a local area’. LRNSs will need to map existing natural assets, including ‘protected sites and wildlife-rich habitats’ and identify ‘key opportunities for enhancement’.
- Statutory Environmental Improvement Plans (the first being the 25 Year Environment Plan) and a new framework for setting long term legally binding targets are intended to deliver long-term improvements to the Natural Environment and more effectively hold the Government to account. Targets will be set for four priority areas of the natural environment, including nature, and will be reviewed every five years.
- The Bill extends the duty on public authorities to cover the enhancement, as well as the conservation, of biodiversity. Public authorities will also be required to strategically assess the actions they can take to enhance and conserve biodiversity.
In the West of England, we are already working to help achieve the requirements set out in the Environment Bill. As well as developing a Nature Recovery Network for the West of England, WENP is working with Local and Regional Authorities to develop a Green Infrastructure Strategy for the West of England and to embed Biodiversity Net Gain in local planning policy.
The Bill will now need to go through a number of readings by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords before being made into law (for more details on the passage of the bill through Parliament, see https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/passage-bill/).View Environment Bill Policy Statement View Environment Bill Documents