Laws to drive nature's recovery
Using and strengthening the legal framework to deliver nature's recovery
The Environment Act
The government must set legally binding targets in air quality, biodiversity, water and waste, and a separate target to halt species decline by 2030.
The RSPB is pressing the government to set ambitious targets which measure the state of nature; species abundance, extinction risk, and habitat quality and range. We will work to ensure clear, measurable policies that can deliver the targets are in the refreshed 25 Year Environment Plan.
The Office for Environmental Protection
The Environment Act creates a new environmental watchdog for England and Northern Ireland to review, report and investigate public authorities’ compliance with environment laws, including through the courts if necessary.
We welcome Dame Glenys Stacey as the first chair - her vast experience will be invaluable for this vital role ensuring the OEP's independence is protected, the government is robustly held to account and essential strategic differences are made to tackle the nature crisis, despite the OEP's limited resources.
The Nature Chapter
The Environment Act could be a turning point for nature. New measures such as local nature recovery, protected sites and conservation of species strategies, biodiversity net gain, conservation covenants and improvements to licensing for developers could help reverse nature’s decline and start on its restoration if they are designed to complement government targets.
However the Act also has the power to dilute our best legal protection for sites and species.
The Environment Act includes powers to improve water management. By 2028 the EA will be able to revoke licences to abstract water due to environmental harm. It also creates a report system on drainage and sewerage management plans and requires more collaboration between water companies on managing supply and demand and environmental standards; along with strengthening the water watchdog, Ofwat’s, powers.
Due diligence systems
The Environment Act includes measures to ensure that UK businesses do not use commodities (scope to be determined via secondary legislation) grown on illegally deforested land, and to require businesses to carry out due diligence in their supply chains, results of which will be published annually. These provisions could be a crucial step towards eliminating deforestation from the UK's global footprint.