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Enabling environmental protection and improvement in the UK



Prior to Brexit, the majority of new environmental policy and legislation applicable in the UK derived from Brussels and the European Commission acted as overseer of their implementation. Following the UK's exit from the EU, the legal obligations on the UK Government were retained into our domestic law but the Commission's ongoing role came to an end, leading to demands for a replacement body to fill the vacuum and continue to hold the Government to account.

To this end, the Environment Bill contained provisions to establish an environmental watchdog, put the Government's green policy on a statutory footing, salvage the principles enshrined in the EU Treaty, and require the Government to set binding targets for environmental improvement. It also contained a wide-ranging span of provisions laying down powers to reform environmental law in areas including waste collection, extended responsibility of producers for packaging, planning of sewerage services, recall of vehicles not compliant with emissions regulation, and more.

A tortuous passage through Parliament ensued, with the Bill finally emerging as the Environment Act on 9 November 2021. Some of the provisions in the Act have been brought into force with others to follow. The Act will be the hinge pin for environmental reforms over the years to come. As the role of the newly formed Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) and environmental improvement plans develop and the substance of further reform proposals are announced, our experts will include their insights here to help you make sense of them.