The Environment Bill has been delayed for the third time after the government became concerned about running out of time to pass the bill before the end of this parliamentary session.
Described by the Prime Minister as his government’s ‘lodestar’, the Environment Bill includes plans to set up a green watchdog to enforce vital environmental laws and to set legally binding targets that would guide government plans for nature, waste and water and air quality.
While the bill still needs to be strengthened in a number of places – particularly the independence of the new Office for Environmental Protection and to address the lack of legally binding interim targets – it would have introduced some crucial measures to start tackling the crises in nature and climate. The latest delay means that these measures are still not in place more than four and a half years on from the referendum, and over a year since the UK left the EU.
Reacting to the news, Ruth Chambers of the Greener UK coalition said:
The UK government has consistently claimed environmental leadership, but after four years of delays we are still without crucial laws to restore nature and tackle climate change. It is greatly disappointing that a bill described as a flagship has disappeared once again.
Ministers must now use this extra time to improve their plans around upholding green laws and introduce binding short-term targets. And the bill must be the first one out of the blocks after the next Queen’s Speech.
Green CEOs also wrote to the editor of The Daily Telegraph about the delay.