Defra ‘Yesterday our landmark Environment Bill took a step forward after being passed by the House of Commons at Second Reading. Described as a “keystone” piece of legislation by the Environment Secretary, the Bill will deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth.’

Single use plastics and deposit return schemes    DefraIt is pertinent that the campaigners’ letter coincides with the Environment Bill’s second reading, as this legislation will introduce the legal framework under which ministers can more easily ban or restrict single-use plastic items. Any specific bands or restrictions could then be brought forwards under secondary legislation, allowing us the flexibility to adapt to the latest evidence available and target items that are not already covered under other policy options, such as extended producer responsibility schemes. Other powers in the Bill cover the introduction of deposit return schemes for drinks containers to incentivise recycling, and the ability for ministers to ban or restrict the export and import of waste (including polluting plastic) between the UK and non-OECD countries.

Wildlife & Countryside Link Update on the 2nd reading    Environment Bill

The Environment Bill has received its Second reading and the first amendments have now been tabled for Committee Stage, including Link-GUK targets amendments.

The Second Reading debate was wide-ranging, with constructive challenges from across the House.

Plastics waste and the need to reduce materials use featured well, as well as pressure to strengthen the governance framework. There were good challenges about the need to link the Environment Bill with agricultural reform and Government’s wider nature-restoration agenda.

We will now be working in partnership to focus further attention on the whole breath of our proposed amendments, including targets, Local Nature Recovery Strategies, water and marine matters. For example, we will be arguing that the targets framework must be more comprehensive, with strong delivery plans, to provide an envelope of ambition for the rest of the Bill and to show UK leadership in advance of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

So far, Government is engaging openly with stakeholders around the Bill and is keen to present its work as world-leading, but there is little sign of further flexibility on the detail of the Bill. Click here to read more 

Greener UK commentary on the 2nd reading MPs debated the Environment Bill for over five hours on Wednesday. The bill passed its second reading but MPs from across parliament called for changes in a number of key areas, including to make the Office for Environmental Protection more independent, enshrine a principle of non-regression and put a legally binding air quality target on the face of the bill. Many of the points in our second reading briefing were highlighted by MPs during the debate.

We continue to engage with Defra and attended a constructive meeting with Minister Pow and other stakeholders. The bill now moves into Committee, which will start with MPs hearing from experts in a number of oral evidence sessions, followed by detailed line by line scrutiny when amendments are discussed.

The bill continues to attract much public attention. Farming Today covered the debate (listen here from 8m30s) and new Environmental Audit Committee Chair Philip Dunne called for an independent environment watchdog in this Times article.

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