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17 July 2019
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Environment secretary Michael Gove has published draft clauses on environmental principles and governance for inclusion in a broader environment bill to be introduced in 2019.


04 February 2019 Herpreet Kaur Grewal

The government said the bill would “create a new framework for environmental governance, demonstrating this government’s strong commitment to maintain environmental protection as we leave the EU”.

A separate statutory body would “provide independent scrutiny and advice, and hold the government to account on development and implementation of environmental law and policy”, said Gove.

The government believes the independent body should have “a clear remit, acting as a strong and objective voice for environmental protection”.

Gove added: “Our draft clauses for the environment bill… set out how we will create a pioneering new system of green governance, placing our 25- year environment plan on a statutory footing.

“We will explore options for strong targets to improve our environment, and provisions on air quality, waste and water resource management, and restoring nature. Our ambition is to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than that in which we found it. We will keep building on our successes by enhancing our environmental standards and delivering a Green Brexit.”

John Alker, director of policy & places at the UK Green Building Council, said the bill represented “some welcome ambition from government”. 

But he added: “Our built environment has a huge impact on nature and biodiversity, and ensuring we protect and enhance our natural assets is vital, not least for our own health and well-being. This bill should give clarity to construction and property businesses on environmental principles and provide the policy certainty to raise the bar on standards.

“It is crucial that this bill has the teeth to ensure our environmental protections are not weakened by our exit from the EU.”

Stagnating recycling rates

Green businesses welcomed the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy published with the bill, but said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had to go further on mandatory recycling policies.

DS Smith, a UK paper recycler, said the proposed Resources and Waste Strategy needed to be clearer on new investment in infrastructure.

Jochen Behr, head of recycling at DS Smith, said: “A year on from Blue Planet II, it is disappointing that we continue to produce household waste faster than we can recycle it. 2018 has been a turbulent year for recycling as now, for the first time we are set to incinerate more than we recycle.

“Stagnating recycling rates demand a bold new approach, so we welcome the strategy’s commitment to overhaul our waste system and take steps towards building a circular economy.”

He said the public remains confused by the UK’s 150 or more different household waste collection methods. 

“We need equal focus on how as well as what we collect in England, particularly the separate collection of paper and card, which the evidence shows helps consumers to recycle more and drives up material quality.”

Emma Potter