Defra recently published its Environment Bill that puts the environment at the centre of policy making.
It includes details on:
- Creating a new governance framework for the environment
- Creating a framework for legally binding targets
- Moving towards a circular resources and waste economy
- Improving air quality
- Securing water services
- Enhancing green spaces
- Updating laws on chemicals (REACH)
It also contains several measures with implications for the planning system and opportunities to protect and improve the natural environment. Key measures in the bill include:
- A mandatory duty on developers to provide for a 10% net gain in biodiversity, preferably locally to the development;
- A new mapping system will identify opportunities to improve biodiversity at a strategic scale and can be used to inform development plans and the net gain process;
- Local authorities will be required to consult on proposals to fell street trees, and will have a strengthened duty to improve biodiversity when delivering their functions;
- There will also be a new statutory body, the Office for Environmental Protection, with the power to enforce the proper application of environmental law.