Environment Bill, Second Reading, House of Commons, 26 February 2020

We have some concerns about the implementation of certain provisions within the Bill, and the new burdens that will be imposed on councils as a result. A key example is the expected increased burden on planning departments. Local government will need to acquire new skills and be given the appropriate resources, to deliver on the ambitious plans in the Bill. 


Key messages

  • We welcome the reintroduction of the Environment Bill. It is essential that, as a nation, we tackle the climate emergency and protect our natural environment. We need to continue to improve air quality, protect against flooding, and ensure our transport, waste and energy policies are environmentally sustainable. 
  • We have some concerns about the implementation of certain provisions within the Bill, and the new burdens that will be imposed on councils as a result. A key example is the expected increased burden on planning departments. Local government will need to acquire new skills and be given the appropriate resources, to deliver on the ambitious plans in the Bill. 
  • The Bill contains provisions to establish the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), which will have enforcement functions over public authorities who fail to comply with environmental law. It will be essential that the OEP board contains knowledge, and direct experience of, local government. 
  • We support the principle of increasing biodiversity net gain through the planning process. Where net gain contributions from developers cannot be delivered on site, any financial “credits” should be retained by councils so that local people will have a say in how they are spent. 
  • We also support proposals to ban exports of plastic waste to non-OECD countries but we are concerned that this will restrict where councils can send recyclable material. The UK market for recycling needs to be expanded and more recycling infrastructure provided to address this.  
  • In addition, local government wants to see measures that reduce the amount of unnecessary and unrecyclable material becoming an issue in the first place. We welcome the commitment for retailers and manufacturers to pay for recycling and disposing of packaging and household waste. This is a crucial stage in shifting the cost away from the tax payer and back to the polluter. The Bill must set out clearly that producers will be required to pay the full net costs to councils.  
  • The LGA has long-supported proposals for councils to collect a core set of dry recyclable materials. How the materials are collected should be a local decision. There are a range of local issues such as geography, property type and rurality which determine the method in which waste can be collected. 

Download the full briefing
Environment Bill, Second Reading, House of Commons, 26 February 2020