Environment Bill becomes law in the UK 

After a much-anticipated wait, the new Environment Act 2021 has become law in the UK.

Almost 3 years since discussion and debate began around this important topic which green groups and activists have been pushing for, for years. This new act marks the beginning of a shift in the government’s approach to protecting our environment for future generations, with campaigners considering this new Bill as a ‘milestone’. The Act arrived just in time for the ‘Environment Day’ at the COP 26 conference, held in Glasgow between October 31st and November 13th.  The UK government have stated this new Act will help to tackle a variety of concerns, including waste, species decline, air and water quality. As well as review measures to increase recycling within the country and to improve the natural environment. Since the act will make major changes, as the first environment bill to be passed in 26 years, many industries will have to review their process to stay in line with the new laws. Rosconn Strategic Land have looked at exactly how this will impact planning and development within the UK.

What will the new Environment Bill implement?

The new Act provides for:

  • A 10% biodiversity net gain requirement for all new developments. On sites where these biodiversity gains are secured, they will have to be managed for at least 30 years. With a “biodiversity gain site register” being implemented for each site, where this must be maintained for at least 30 years.
  • New Local Natural Recovery Strategies (LNRS)
  • A new legally binding target on species abundance for 2030, which will help to reverse declines of iconic British species like the hedgehog, red squirrel, and water vole.
  • A duty upon Local Authorities to consult on street tree felling,
  • The act will work to strengthen woodland protection enforcement measures.
  • Protected Site Strategies and Species Conservation Strategies to support the design and delivery of strategic approaches to deliver better outcomes for nature.
  • The prohibition of larger UK businesses from using commodities associated with wide-scale deforestation.

Biodiversity Net Gain within planning and development

For those within the housebuilding and land development industries, the requirement for a 10% biodiversity net gain on all new developments will change how plans are drawn up and considered by local planning authorities. For house builders, landowners, land promoters, developers, and local authorities, measures must be in place in order for plans to demonstrate how this biodiversity net gain will be achieved. This will likely become part of the planning system within the near future. The requirement will affect the processes of how land is chosen and reviewed for development and how these sites are then maintained once built.