The Environment Bill will put environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of Government. I am pleased that the Government is legislating to ensure we can leave our natural environment in a better condition than we found it, by meeting net zero by 2050, and establishing wider long-term legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality, water, and resource and waste efficiency, which will be reviewed every five years and reinforced by annual progress reports. These targets cannot be changed without Parliamentary approval.
I believe it is important that the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) is independent and fully transparent, so the Government is held to account on these targets. Therefore, I am pleased that ministers have assured that the OEP will be operationally independent from Government. This means that ministers will not be able to set its programme of activity or influence its decision-making. The OEP will also have the power to take public bodies to an upper tribunal if the law is breached.
More broadly, as the EU transition period ends, the Government is working to develop global gold standard environmental policies. Our agricultural policy will reward environmentally responsible land use, and we will be able to allocate fishing quotas based on sustainability, allowing us to pursue the highest standards in marine conservation.
The Government is currently reflecting on matters raised by colleagues and interested parties during the Environment Bill’s committee stage. I look forward to the Bill coming back to the House of Commons in the near future, where I will be able to consider any amendments that have been brought forward.