The Government is to introduce what it describes as a landmark Bill to Parliament to tackle the biggest environmental priorities of our time.
The transformative Environment Bill promises to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive.
Legislation will also create, legally-binding environmental improvement targets.
A new independent Office for Environmental Protection will be established to scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action against public authorities, if necessary, to uphold our environmental standards.
The office’s powers will cover all climate change legislation and hold the government to account on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said:
Our natural environment is a vital shared resource and the need to act to secure it for generations to come is clear.
That’s why our landmark Environment Bill leads a green transformation that will help our country to thrive. It positions the UK as a world leader on improving air quality, environmental biodiversity, a more circular economy, and managing our precious water resources in a changing climate.
Crucially, it also ensures that after Brexit, environmental ambition and accountability are placed more clearly than ever before at the heart of government, both now and in the future.
Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at WWF, said:
“Public concern for the environment has never been higher as we face a nature and climate emergency.
“Legally binding targets to protect and restore nature at home are welcome, but around the world our forests are burning and wildlife is being wiped out and this bill does not address the role that the UK is playing in driving the destruction of nature overseas. We must also reduce and reverse the UK’s negative impact on nature abroad and remove deforestation from the supply chains of foods we eat and things we buy.
“This long-awaited flagship bill needs more wind in its sails, powered by stronger ambition and investment, if we’re going to battle the global crisis we’re facing and sail onto the world stage as a credible environmental leader.”