WWT welcomes the speedy reintroduction of the Environment Bill into Parliament today, however this vital legislation must go further than simply bridging the gap in environmental protection and oversight that we have enjoyed as a Member State of the EU.
Tom Fewins, Head of Policy and Advocacy at WWT, said:
"We are pleased to see that the revised Bill will contain some stronger provisions to tackle the environmental crisis, with legally binding targets, extending oversight to climate law and networks to help restore nature.
"Nevertheless, questions remain over the powers and independence of the Office for Environmental Protection – the green watchdog which will have such a key role in replacing the EU structures we are moving away from. There remains a significant gap which must be plugged. There are also uncertainties over the legal weight of environmental principles and setting of the legally binding targets. Unless these are dealt with, we will see a reduction in environmental standards and oversight.
"WWT remains concerned to see how the detailed provisions will address issues we have over the protection of small water bodies, on measures to support reduction in water consumption, commitments to ensure water quality standards are maintained and enhanced, and that land drainage is managed to avoid damaging the environment.
"Our broad concern is to see the Environment Bill as a cornerstone in the fight to combat the environmental and climate emergency, the evidence for which has been accumulating for decades. We believe that there’s still a lot of work to do before the Bill meets this test."