Environment Bill (published) – Part 4 (England & UK Part)

The Bill is here. 130 Clauses in 8 Parts, and 20 Schedules.

The Explanatory Memorandum is here.

The Environment Bill (“the Bill”) is comprised of two thematic halves.

(1) A legal framework for environmental governance once the UK leaves the EU.

This was earlier published in part as the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill on 19 December 2018, fulfilling a legal obligation set out in section 16 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The measures published at that time related only to environmental principles and governance, and placing the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing.

I posted two Blog posts about this (Brexit) – one on Parts 1&2 and one on the Environment Bill changing UK REACH (Brexit Law).

(2) Provision for specific improvement of the environment, including measures on waste and resource efficiency, air quality and environmental recall, water, nature and biodiversity, and conservation covenants.

SPECIFIC IMPROVEMENT of the ENVIRONMENT

Part 4 – Air Quality and Environmental Recall Part of the Environment Bill – includes –

amending Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 (which creates the Local Air Quality Management Framework) to strengthen the requirements in respect of the National Air Quality Strategy, including a requirement for it to be regularly reviewed;

amending the Local Air Quality Management Framework to clarify duties and enable greater cooperation between different levels of local government, and other relevant public bodies, in the preparation of Local Air Quality Action Plans;

amending Part III of the Clean Air Act 1993 to enable quicker, simpler and more proportionate enforcement of Smoke Control Areas, a key means by which local authorities can control pollution from domestic solid fuel burning;

Specifically – Schedule 13 would amend the Clean Air Act 1993 to give local authorities the power to impose financial penalties for the emission of smoke in smoke control areas (SCAs) in England. This means that the emission of smoke from a chimney of a building or a chimney (not being a chimney of a building) that serves the furnace of any fixed boiler or industrial plant in an SCA in England will change from being a criminal offence to instead being subject to a civil penalty notice (a fine).

The change will remove the current statutory defences that are making enforcement by local authorities very challenging, and reduce the burden and cost associated with enforcing SCAs.

– amending Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) to remove the private dwelling exemption (from statutory nuisance enforcement), enabling a local authority in England to pursue somebody who emits smoke from a private dwelling in a Smoke Control Area where it is prejudicial to human health or causing a nuisance.

– removing the limit on the fine for the offence of selling controlled solid fuels for delivery (leaving it to the discretion of the Magistrate’s Court), and creating a new duty on retailers to notify customers of the law regarding the acquisition of controlled solid fuels in England, to help raise consumer awareness and improve compliance.

providing for mandatory recall notices for vehicles and equipment that do not comply with relevant environmental standards and for fines to be issued when a minimum recall rate is not met.

As a Bill, this document would need to pass both Houses of Parliament to enter the statute books. You note, I pegged this as England.

However, some Clauses are intended to have effect outside England – see page 194 of the Explanatory Memorandum which has a table.

If the Bill enters the statute books, the provisions then need to be commenced, some may be commenced immediately, such as those that are needed directly for EU Exit, but there could be a substantive delay in the commencement of other Part, such as Part 4.

I will issue further Blog posts, please look out for them.

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