Environment Bill Finally Passes into Law
On 9th November 2021, the Environment Bill, which introduces a new requirement for developers to make sure all new schemes involve improvements to biodiversity, has now become an Act, nearly 3 years since it first appeared in Parliament.
The Act introduces a ten per cent biodiversity net gain requirement for all new developments. On sites where these biodiversity gains are secured, they would have to be managed for at least 30 years. In addition, a publicly-available "biodiversity gain site register" would be set up for each development site, to be maintained for at least 30 years after the scheme has completed.
The Act also introduces Local Natural Recovery Strategies - a new system of spatial strategies for nature - which will eventually cover the whole of England.
This follows (on 8 November) MPs in the House of Commons voting against amendments by the House of Lords that sought to strengthen the independence of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). MPs also voted against tougher measures to end sewage pollution in England’s rivers.
Government ministers confirmed that it will not issue guidance before the OEP develops its own enforcement policy and that ministers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will not issue guidance on Defra policy matters.
Environment minister Lord Goldsmith also said the government would consult the OEP on any guidance.