I am pleased that this Government remains fully committed to the Environment Bill as a key part of delivering the manifesto commitment to create the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on Earth.
The Second Day of Report Stage and Third Reading took place on Wednesday 26 May, with Royal Assent expected in the Autumn. I was lucky enough to speak in this reading and ensured all points were addressed with regard to soil, pastureland and chalk streams in Meon Valley. You can see my speech here: https://flickdrummond-admin.conservativewebsites.org.uk/news/flick-speaks-environment-bill
I am assured that key work on implementing the Bill’s measures continues at pace, including establishing the Office for Environmental Protection, setting long-term legally-binding targets for environmental protection and creating a new Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers.
The Environment Bill will place environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of Government. I am pleased that legislative measures will be introduced to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age, ensuring that we can deliver on the commitment to leave the natural world in a better condition than we found it. These will include meeting net-zero by 2050, as well as wider long-term legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality, water, and resource and waste efficiency which will be established under the Bill.
The Environment Bill requires that Statutory Instruments setting out environmental targets must be laid before parliament by 31 October 2022. Ministers will continue to develop targets through a robust, evidence-led process to meet this deadline. Ministers have also committed that their proposed objectives for biodiversity targets include restoring species populations and priority habitats, which will improve the state of nature. By setting targets of at least 15 years, Ministers will ensure that Governments look beyond the short term, but this does not mean we should not make progress until 2030. I am confident that the process put in place to develop targets will contribute to meeting new global goals set under the convention on biological diversity.
As a core part of the commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we found it, and acting on the recommendations of the Dasgupta Review, Ministers will be amending the Environment Bill to require a historic, new legally-binding target on species abundance for 2030 with the aim of halting the decline of nature in England. It is hoped that this world leading measure will be the net zero equivalent for nature, spurring action of the scale required to address the biodiversity crisis. Ministers will develop this target alongside the longer term legally-binding targets already being developed in the Environment Bill, and set the final target in secondary legislation following the agreement of global targets at the UN Nature Conference CBD COP15 in autumn 2021.
I am pleased that last year the Government set out its approach to tackling deforestation linked to UK demand for products such as cocoa, rubber, soya, and palm oil. Combined, the new package of measures will ensure that greater resilience, traceability and sustainability are built into the UK’s supply chains by working in partnership with other countries and supporting farmers to transition to more sustainable food and land use systems. The measures include the introduction of a new law in the Environment Bill which will require greater due diligence from businesses and make it illegal for UK businesses to use key commodities if they have not been produced in line with local laws protecting forests and other natural ecosystems.
I am pleased that in the year of COP26, the Environment Bill is at the core of delivering the Government’s manifesto commitment to deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth and leave our environment in a better state than we found it.
I look forward to seeing this Bill implemented.