EPUK’s Asks for the Environment Bill
Environmental Protection UK has positively supported and promoted pollution reduction policies and practices since its inception over 120 years ago. We are concerned about any ‘roll-back’ in environmental protection and we are asking the government to ensure the Environment Bill delivers the following actions which we believe will go some way to ensuring that environmental protection will not be compromised.
1. Forms a strong and independent oversight body, with the powers to legally require effective action by central government and all public bodies to improve the environment and protect health, comply with legal duties, and implement consequences of equal strength to the current system (including EU fines for non-compliance). It is also noted that the proposed OEP will have oversight over wider environmental regulation (including legislation not derived from EU law). We emphasise the importance of a fully funded oversight body with the ability to fully discharge its duties. We request that funding of this body is not to the detriment of other, existing environmental regulatory bodies.
2. Fully integrates environmental protection principles and rights into UK law from the EU treaties, as well as new modern principles such as non-regression, to apply to the discharge of the functions of all public bodies; and the rights to access environmental information, participate in environmental decision making and access to justice in environmental matters.
3. Sets stringent and non-regressive targets for environmental protection, with any supporting legislation having sufficient flexibility to address emerging issues and new scientific evidence, with support to go beyond these to deliver further health benefits. These should keep up with the most stringent of WHO and other international standards and timescales going forward. There should also be a requirements for monitoring environmental metrics, which should as a minimum stay in line with the European and other international monitoring requirements.
4. Furthermore we would ask that all parts of government be instructed to take action wherever they have control or influence on pollution impacts and sources.
a. National government must provide national narrative, political priority and action on overarching and wide-spread problems, as well as providing support for others to take appropriate action; this is not limited to Defra, but must include work by DfT, MCLG, BEIS, HMT and DoH.
b. regional authorities and other bodies must take action to address pollution from sources they influence or control; and
c. local authorities must address local issues and local implementation of national and regional measures (with the appropriate political, financial and expert support).
This briefing is also available in pdf format – EPUK Environmental Bill Asks (July 2019).
The EPUK Air Quality Committee have compiled more detailed comments on air quality aspects of the Environment Bill. This is built on work the committee has carried out on the national Clean Air Strategy, NO2 National Plan and local air quality management. This and more work of the Air Quality Committee on legislation can be seen here.