Thank you for contacting me about the Environment Act consultation.
The Environment Act 2021 responds to a clear and urgent scientific case, and growing public demand, for action to address environmental challenges. This landmark legislation sets a new and ambitious domestic framework for environmental governance now we have left the European Union. These challenges include tackling biodiversity loss, climate change, waste and pollution of the air, water and land.
I am aware that the Environment Act requires the Government to set at least one long-term legally binding target in four priority areas (air quality, biodiversity, water, and waste reduction and resource efficiency) as well as a target for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
The Environment Targets Public Consultation launched on 16 March 2022. Regarding air quality, I know that the consultation proposes two air quality targets, a concentration target and an exposure reduction target, to be met across England by 2040. I am glad that this dual-target approach will tackle the highest concentrations and ensure continuous improvement across the country.
I am assured that ministers recognise the importance of the evidence reports and impact assessments and will be extending the targets consultation to reflect the time taken for the evidence packs to be published. I understand that the packs, which are large and complex, are undergoing final assurance and will be published shortly.