UK to set new legally-binding environmental targets

The government has set out how it will use its forthcoming Environment Bill to set new targets in four priority areas to drive ‘significant and lasting environmental improvements’ across the country.

Posted on 26 August 2020

The government has set out how it will use its forthcoming Environment Bill to set new targets in four priority areas to drive ‘significant and lasting environmental improvements’ across the country.

The Environment Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, will help to fill gaps in environmental law that will occur once the UK leaves the EU.

The government has revealed that it will introduce at least one long-term, legally-binding target for air quality, resource efficiency and waste reduction, biodiversity and water. These may include:

  • Air quality: Targets focusing specifically on reducing public exposure to fine particular matter, a dangerous air pollutant from vehicle exhausts, tyres and other sources

  • Resource efficiency: Targets focusing on increasing resource productivity and reducing the volume of resident waste and plastic pollution generated in the UK

  • Biodiversity: Targets focusing on restoring and creating wildlife-rich habitats in protected sites and in the wider countryside

  • Water: Targets focusing on tackling pollution from agriculture and waste water to improve water quality, as well as a target on water demand.

 

Certainty for business

Each target will have a minimal duration of 15 years. Part of the rationale is to “stimulate investments in green technology and innovative practices by providing long-term certainty for business.”

The targets will be set through a “robust, evidence-led process” and businesses and civil society will be able to respond through a public consultation expected in early 2022.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “The targets we set under our landmark Environment Bill will be the driving force behind our bold action to protect and enhance our natural world - guaranteeing real and lasting progress on some of the biggest environmental issues facing us today.

“I hope these targets will provide some much-needed certainty to businesses and society, as we work together to build back better and greener.”

Circular economy

In separate news, the government has confirmed that the UK will remain legally-aligned with the EU’s Circular Economy Package, committing the country to a number of long-term recycling targets. These include recycling 65 per cent of municipal waste, and no more than 10 per cent going to landfill, by 2035.

The package paves the way for policies to keep more recyclable materials in circulation within the resources and waste system, such as an existing proposal for a new tax on businesses who produce or import plastic packaging that is not at least 30 per cent recycled.

 

 

 

 

Posted under General Interest, Material and Packaging Efficiency, Waste Management, Water Efficiency and Effluent Management and Environmental Regulations and Legislation on 26 August 2020