On 18 July 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May, announced that the Government would introduce a wide-ranging Environment Bill that will cover sectoral environmental regulation and standard-setting in areas such as air quality, wildlife and habitats, better management of resources, water and waste. The Bill aims to create a crucial piece of legislation to maintain protection for our environment after leaving the European Union.
Timing for the introduction of any new legislation is uncertain with recent news that Government is considering a delay to the Queen’s speech, necessary for introducing new legislation.
As part of the UK Government’s latest plans, ministers have formally directed 38 English and Welsh local authorities to carry out feasibility studies and produce their own individual proposals to deliver compliance with legal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in their areas in the shortest possible time.
Air quality features prominently within the proposed legislation and many of the measures proposed are outlined out in the Government’s Clean Air Strategy 2019. Commitments are set out in the strategy to introduce an up to date legislative framework for tackling air pollution at national and local level and also to strengthen local authority powers with respect to air quality.
The draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill, was published on 19 December 2018, and will be included as part of the wide-ranging Environment Bill when introduced into Parliament – as set out in a House of Commons Research Briefing. The Bill also includes a proposal for the creation of an independent oversight body, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). City leaders brought together by UK100 have recognised the opportunity presented by the Environment Bill to put in place world-leading legislation for clean air. Together, they have agreed on a number of priorities that need to be included in the upcoming Environment Bill in order to improve air quality across the U.K.