The Ramblers have expressed concerns over the government’s decision to delay legislation that sets the direction for environmental protection and improvement following the UK’s exit from the EU.
The Environment Bill - first introduced to parliament over a year ago - was due to progress through its remaining stages in the House of Commons this week. However, the government took a decision to pause its passage through parliament due to timetabling pressures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now unlikely that the Bill will become law until the autumn. This does, however, offer an opportunity for ministers to improve the legislation so that everybody has access to green space.
The Bill currently includes proposals to require legally binding targets and plans on biodiversity, air and water quality and waste reduction. It also allows the government to set targets for people’s enjoyment of the natural environment – as well as including proposals for long-term Environmental Improvement Plans and would establish a new environmental watchdog, independent of government.
The Ramblers have been calling for the Bill to be amended to ensure it requires the government to improve people’s access to and enjoyment of nature. In particular, the Ramblers want to see the Bill amended to require the Government to set legally-binding, long-term targets to increase public access to, and enjoyment of, the natural environment. The Bill should also include steps to improve people’s enjoyment of the natural environment in the Government’s future Environmental Plans.
Gemma Cantelo, Head of Policy and Advocacy at the Ramblers, said: “It is concerning that the Government will be unable to pass its flagship environmental legislation before the autumn. This delay risks leaving significant gaps in our environmental legislation. However, the pause does give the Government an opportunity to take stock and rectify failings in the current Bill. We would urge Ministers to use this delay to amend the Bill to include provisions to ensure everyone can access green space within 5 minutes’ walk from home.”
Please write to your MP today let them know you support our call for the government to guarantee that no one lives more than five minutes’ walk from green space, by requiring national targets for access to nature under the Environment Bill.