The UK government has introduced its landmark Environment Bill to Parliament, aimed at ensuring that England improves and maintains environmental protections as it exits the European Union, enshrining environmental principles in domestic law and introducing measures to tackle plastic pollution, improve air and water quality, and restore ecological habitats.
The government will also create new legally-binding targets, establish a new independent Office for Environmental Protection to be tasked with upholding environmental standards, speed-up the fight on climate changes, and introduce charges to discourage single-use plastic use.
The bill is also intended to boost biodiversity, ensure new homes are built sustainably, protect flora, better manage waste, and safeguard water resources for future generations.
The new bill intends to be “at the heart of all government policymaking”, ensuring politicians and government are accountable should they fail to uphold their environmental duties.
The government will also set a legally-binding target to reduce fine particulate matter, and where necessary, compel carmakers to recall vehicles if they fall afoul of environmental standards.
On the other hand, the new watchdog will not have the power to fine government should it fall short of its ambitions - a noteworthy post-Brexit change, as current climate commitments are enforceable through common EU regulations.
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Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Our natural environment is a vital shared resource and the need to act to secure it for generations to come is clear.
“That’s why our landmark Environment Bill leads a green transformation that will help our country to thrive. It positions the UK as a world leader on improving air quality, environmental biodiversity, a more circular economy, and managing our precious water resources in a changing climate.”
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