Thank you for contacting me about the progress of the Environment Bill.
I am pleased that this Government remains fully committed to the Environment Bill as a key part of delivering the manifesto commitment to create the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on Earth. The Bill has now completed its journey through the House of Commons and will now be debated in the Lords, with Royal Assent expected in the Autumn. I am assured that key work on implementing the Bill’s measures continues at pace, including establishing the Office for Environmental Protection, setting long-term legally-binding targets for environmental protection and creating a new Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers.
The Environment Bill will place environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of Government. I am pleased that legislative measures will be introduced to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age, ensuring that we can deliver on the commitment to leave the natural world in a better condition than we found it. These will include meeting net zero by 2050, as well as wider long-term legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality, water, and resource and waste efficiency which will be established under the Bill. The Bill will also give Ministers the powers to tackle storm overflows.
Further, the Government intends to amend the Bill in the Lords to include a new, historic, legally binding target on species abundance for 2030, aiming to halt the decline of nature. This is a pioneering measure that will be the net zero equivalent for nature, spurring action on the scale required to address the biodiversity crisis. A forthcoming Green Paper will also explore how Ministers might deliver their world-leading domestic ambitions for nature, including how to improve the status of native species, such as the water vole and the red squirrel, and protect 30 per cent of our land by 2030.
The Environment Bill requires that Statutory Instruments setting out environmental targets must be laid before parliament by 31 October 2022. Ministers will continue to develop targets through a robust, evidence-led process to meet this deadline. Ministers have also committed that their proposed objectives for biodiversity targets include restoring species populations and priority habitats, which will improve the state of nature. By setting targets of at least 15 years, Ministers will ensure that Governments look beyond the short term, but this does not mean we should not make progress until 2030. I am confident that the process put in place to develop targets will contribute to meeting new global goals set under the convention on biological diversity.
I am pleased that in the year of COP26, the Environment Bill is at the core of delivering the Government’s manifesto commitment to deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth and leave our environment in a better state than we found it.