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.

New Vehicle Emission Charges (London)

From Monday, the new T-Charge (Toxicity Charge) will apply in London’s congestion charge zone. This will apply to cars, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and heavy good vehicles. The daily T-Charge will be additional to the Congestion Charge. The T-Charge will end when the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is in force (April 2019). The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The ULEZ standards will be additional to the Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone requirements at that time. 

Further Information is here

Congestion Charge and T-Charge hours of operation : Monday – Friday, 07:00 – 18:00 – excludes Bank Holidays and the period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inclusive.

Vehicles included

Cars, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and HGVs, motorised caravans and horseboxes, breakdown and recovery vehicles, private ambulances, motor hearses, dual purpose vehicles and other specialist vehicle types that do not meet the minimum Euro emission standards are subject to the T-Charge. These standards are for cars – Euro 4 (see the further information link). 

Exemptions

Motorcycles, mopeds and scooters that are exempt from the Congestion Charge are also exempt from the T-Charge. 

Taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) are exempt from paying the Congestion Charge and the T-Charge when actively licensed with TfL. The exemption for PHVs only applies to private hire bookings.

Other exemptions include : 

(1) Vehicles with a historic tax class (40 years and older) and/or commercial vehicles manufactured before 1973. These vehicles continue to be subject to the Congestion Charge

(2) Two-wheeled motorbikes (and sidecars) and mopeds that are exempt from the Congestion Charge

(3) Emergency service vehicles, such as ambulances and fire engines, which have a taxation class of ‘ambulance’ or ‘fire engine’ on the date of travel

(4) NHS vehicles exempt from vehicle excise duty, and Ministry of Defence vehicles

(5) Roadside recovery vehicles and accredited breakdown vehicles registered for a 100% discount from the Congestion Charge

(6) Specialist off-road vehicles such as tractors and mobile cranes (that are exempt from Low Emission Zone)

Motorised tricycles and quadricycles that are subject to the Congestion Charge are also affected. Motorcycles are not subject to the T-Charge.
9+ seater vehicles that are currently registered for a discount or are exempt from paying the charge will need to meet the required emissions standards or pay the T-Charge.

Air Quality Consultation (UK)

My recent posts (in the Air category) cover (a) the decision of the European Court to prosecute the UK as respects Nitrogen Dioxide in ambient air, and (b) the UK Supreme Court decision mandating the UK government to bring forward plans to rectify it’s non-compliance with the European NO2 air quality standard. 

The UK is compliant for nearly all air pollutants. However, it is a significant challenge to meet the NO2 limit values in some areas. The EU Ambient Air Quality Directive (AQD) sets limits on key air pollutants, for NO2, there are two limit values for the protection of human health:
(i) annual mean concentration levels of NO2 should not exceed 40μg/m3; and
(ii) hourly mean concentration levels of NO2 should not exceed 200μg/m3 more than 18 times a calendar year.

The UK is divided into 43 zones and agglomerations for air quality monitoring and reporting purposes. In 2013, 38 out of the 43 UK zones were assessed to be exceeding the maximum annual limit for NO2, together with one zone exceeding the hourly limit.

Road transport is the dominant source of pollution in areas where the UK is exceeding NO2 limit values, although the effects of urban and regional background non-transport sources are also relevant.

The UK government is consulting (Scotland is conducting its own consultation):

The consultation comprises:

(1) A consultation document that summarises the key elements from the draft plans (draft air quality plans for each agglomeration) and identifies the main areas where views are sought;

(2) A draft UK overview document that sets out the UK’s approach for meeting NO2 limit values in the shortest possible time;

(3) Draft plans to improve air quality in each of the 38 zones exceeding the annual mean limit value for NO2. The zone plans contain the information required by the Ambient Air Quality Directive, describe the compliance situation for each zone and include more detailed information on measures being taken at a local level.

The England, Wales and Northern Ireland consultation document is found here.

The Scotland consultation document is found here.

The draft UK overview document is found here.

The draft Air Quality Plans are found here.

Please note the draft Air Quality Plan for the Greater London Urban Area refers to the London Mayor’s new Ultra Low Emissions Zone. I will post about this separately.

Please note I will post about the diesel passenger vehicle emissions situation shortly.

Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) (England)

Consultation is occurring on changes to Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) in England. This is a follow-up to consultation that took place in 2013.

The latest consultation contains a number of proposals to reduce regulatory and administrative burdens in line with commitments made under the UK Government’s Red Tape Challenge, and to improve the overall effectiveness of LAQM in dealing with current air quality challenges.

The consultation document is split into two parts:

– regulatory consultation on a statutory instrument to enable the removal of four redundant pollutants (Benzene; 1,3 Butadiene; Carbon Monoxide; and Lead) for local authority reporting purposes; and

– part two which provides an overview of non-regulatory changes such as streamlining of reporting processes and providing local authorities with a role to tackle PM2.5 (fine particulates) to be set out in statutory guidance.

Part two will be subject to a further, more detailed consultation in late 2015.

The new statutory instrument will be The Air Quality (England) Regulations 2015 and will replace the existing regulations.