After much debate and deliberation, the Environment Act 2021 has now become law, although there was some controversy surrounding the bill when MPs voted against tougher measures to end sewage pollution.
The Act will now require secondary legislation to implement many of the provisions.
The Act sets out the Government's environmental protection rules, to improve both air and water quality, reduce waste and increase recycling, along with halting the decline of species, whilst improving our natural environment:
- 10% biodiversity net gain requirement for all new developments, and managed for at least 30 years. A publicly available "biodiversity gain site register" for each development site is also to be maintained for at least 30 years after the scheme has completed.
- A system of spatial strategies for nature, which will eventually cover the whole of England and will be known as Local Natural Recovery Strategies (LNRS).
- A binding target on species abundance for 2030, to help reverse the decline of British species including the hedgehog, red squirrel and water vole.
- Local Authorities to consult on street tree felling.
- Increased woodland protection enforcement measures.
- Protected Site Strategies and Species Conservation Strategies, designed to deliver better outcomes for nature.
- Prohibition of larger UK businesses from using commodities associated with wide-scale deforestation.