The Environment Bill passed its second reading earlier this week after it was first introduced on the 15th October by Environment Secretary, Theresa Villiers.
Once a general election is called, parliamentary business will lapse as Parliament is dissolved making way for an incoming government to decide whether to reintroduce the Bill, amend it or scrap it altogether.
Putting her argument forward at the second reading at the House of Commons on the 28th October Theresa Villers said:
“This is a Government who recognise the profound importance of the great environmental challenges of our time. We are the first Government to set the goal that this generation should leave the natural environment in a better state than it was bequeathed to us. This is the first Government to make a legally binding commitment to become a net zero carbon economy. We have cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25% since we returned to office, while growing the economy at the same time. We have pledged more funds than ever before to help the developing world reverse the decline of nature and tackle climate change. We are determined to respond to the grave public concern about these threats, so a new Cabinet Committee will coordinate work on climate change across Government, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.”
Villiers said that the Bill requires the Government to set legally binding, long-term evidence-based targets to deliver significant environmental improvement in resource efficiency including waste reduction.
She said that the second half of the Bill will empower environmental improvement across a range of sectors, encouraging businesses to innovate and invest in meeting the crucial environmental challenges that the nation faces and create additional powers for local government on waste, nature, air quality and water. There is a need for greater efficiency in the way resources and waste are treated. She added: “This legislation will help us to crack down on the blight of waste crime and fly-tipping that costs the taxpayer over £600 million every year”.
Shadow DEFRA Secretary Sue Hayman said:
“Greener UK, the organisation representing environmental NGOs, has said that the Bill is “in need of significant amendment before it is capable of guaranteeing that we do not fall below current standards.”
Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister concluded:
“The Environment Bill will make a much needed step change to protect and enhance our environment.
She added: “There are big ambitions in the Bill, and rightly so. We must talk about all the issues in Committee, and I hope that everyone will join in. This is a transformative Bill that will give a whole new approach to environmental protection and enhancement.”
The Bill includes new powers to introduce more consistent waste collections and extended producer responsibility among other items.
Pow ended with:
“I very much hope that, as the Bill passes through its various stages, we will eventually all be singing from the same hymn sheet—recycled, I hope. I commend the Bill to the House.”
To read the full debate of the second reading of the Environment Bill at the House of Commons on the 28th October go to www.hansard.parliament.uk