Welsh Government introduces Environment Bill

Wales introduces Environment Bill

The Welsh Governmnet has introduced a draft Environment (Wales) Bill for consideration, which includes a ban on incinerating recyclable materials.

The bill, which was introduced to the National Assembly for Wales on Monday (11 May), has been created to ‘plan and manage Wales’s natural resources in a more sustainable and joined-up way’.

It aims to do this through a range of actions, including:

  • creating a national resources policy outlining the ‘key priorities and opportunities for sustainable management of natural resources in relation to Wales, including what [Welsh Ministers] consider should be done in relation to climate change’;
  • frequently publishing a ‘State of Natural Resources’ report, highlighting the condition and extent of Wales’s natural resources, their ability to respond to pressures and their capacity to adapt to climate change;
  • ensuring there are ‘full separate collection service[s] for segregated recyclable materials’ to improve the quality of materials available for recycling, boost recycling rates, reduce business waste disposal costs, and achieve ‘higher prices in the recycling markets’;
  • banning recyclable materials and resources from thermal treatment facilities (i.e. incineration and co-incineration facilities) to boost recycling;
  • banning food waste from being disposed of in sewers (excluding domestic properties and caravans) to boost food waste recycling;
  • extending charges on carrier bags to ‘bags for life’ (and placing a duty on retailers to donate the proceeds of the charges to ‘good causes’);
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent (of 1990 levels of carbon dioxide and methane and 1995 levels for other gases) by 2050 and setting interim targets leading up to that year;
  • setting new carbon budgets; and
  • clarifying the law for other environmental regulatory regimes including flood risk management and land drainage.

The Welsh Government first launched a public consultation on the proposals in 2013, but following ‘a number of significant changes’ (such as the addition of statutory climate change targets and the strengthening of the biodiversity duty placed on public authorities in Wales), the assembly will launch its own consultation on the bill on Friday (15 May).

It is expected that the finalised legislation will receive royal assent in ‘spring 2016’, while the regulations to implement the provisions of the bill will be made ‘after January 2017’.

Managing our natural resources in a way that will deliver lasting benefits’

Introducing the bill on Monday, Wales’s Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant said: “This bill will ensure the decisions we take in relation to our natural resources support our economy, our communities and our environment. It will help us manage our natural resources in a way that will deliver lasting benefits for current and future generations.

“Including statutory climate change targets, underpinned by carbon budgeting, in the bill will allow us to better drive progress, provide certainty for investment and drive forward the low-carbon economy in Wales. This step, together with the requirements for sustainable management of our resources will help to ensure Wales has a prosperous economy alongside a healthy and resilient environment.”

Read the draft Environment (Wales) Bill or watch the video below to find out more about why the bill is being introduced.