Government

Conservative manifesto echoes Environment Bill

The Conservative Party’s 2019 general election manifesto, launched on Sunday (24 November), reiterates the measures proposed in the recently tabled Environment Bill, including plans for extended producer responsibility (EPR) and a deposit return scheme (DRS).

A screenshot of the Conservative Party's manifesto
The Conservative Party's 2019 manifesto

One development on the party’s legislative work in government is the pledge to ban exports of plastic waste to non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, joining Labour and the Liberal Democrats in doing so.

Whilst the Lib Dems say they will commit to doing so by 2030, the Conservatives plan to consult with industry, NGOs and local councils on the date by which this should be achieved.

The rest of the party’s pledges on resources and waste are much the same as the policies it pursued in the last Parliament and laid out in the recent Environment Bill, which fell before receiving royal assent due to the calling on the general election.

As proposed in the Environment Bill, the manifesto includes plans to set up an Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) to scrutinise environmental policy and replace the oversight and enforcement powers of the European Commission once the UK leaves the EU.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers has already faced questioning on the role of the OEP, with the Environmental Audit Committee raising concerns regarding the independence of the proposed watchdog.

The party’s manifesto, entitled ‘Get Brexit Done’, also proposes to introduce a new levy to increase the proportion of recyclable plastics in packaging, otherwise known as the ‘Plastics Tax’, which was announced as part of last year’s Autumn Statement, proposing that a tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging with less than 30 per cent recycled content be introduced from 2022.

In addition to the plans for EPR and DRS, which were both outlined in October’s Environment Bill, the Conservatives have also pledged to crack down on fly-tipping by increasing penalties and make those on community sentences clean up litter from their parks and streets.

Claiming that they will prioritise the environment in the next budget, the manifesto also makes a commitment to establishing a new £500-million Blue Planet Fund to help protect the oceans from plastic pollution, warming sea temperatures and overfishing.

You can read the manifesto in full on the Conservative Party website

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