Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the Environment Bill.
As you will know, the Environment Bill was recently introduced to Parliament. The Bill provides a legal framework for environmental governance and sets out measures to improve the environment, including on air quality, waste and resource efficiency, water management, and nature and biodiversity.
I am concerned, however, that the Bill is nowhere near bold enough to match the scale of the environmental and climate crisis we are facing. Nor does it prevent us from falling behind the EU on environmental standards, which the Government’s approach to trade deals looks set to undercut.
I share concerns raised by Greenpeace about a serious legal loophole in the Bill that means no legal action could be taken against the Government on missed targets on water, plastic, waste or nature restoration until 2037 at the earliest. It is vital that all targets are legally binding and set to be achieved as soon as possible.
In addition, it is disappointing that the Bill does not commit the Government to reaching the World Health Organization’s goal on fine particulate matter – the most damaging pollutant on human health – given the public health emergency caused by illegal air pollution.
The Bill also fails to set a plastics target or properly lay out a plan for the circular economy. Given that countries across Asia and beyond are banning waste imports, this seems like a missed opportunity to set out how the UK is going to develop the smart waste infrastructure we are clearly going to need.
I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will seek to strengthen this Bill as it progresses through Parliament and will continue to press the Government to ensure the UK has equal and better environmental standards after Brexit.