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UK | 26 November 2021

The Environment Act 2021: Parliamentary Briefing
Rule of law

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The Environment Act 2021: Parliamentary Briefing

After what has been a long and drawn-out process, ClientEarth welcomes the passing of the Environment Act. The government made the passing of this Act a key plank in its 2019 manifesto, and has consistently promised to deliver ‘the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on Earth’ and that this Act ‘is just the start’.

Our legal teams have been following the development of the Act closely for several years and argued that it is crucial the UK has strong environmental laws post-Brexit. The Environment Act has been hailed by the government as world-leading legislation that will protect and enhance our environment for future generations, improving air and water quality, tackle waste, increase recycling, halt the decline of species and improve our natural environment.

At ClientEarth, we nevertheless remain disappointed that the details of the Act do not quite meet the world-leading ambition that the government set out to ensure, particularly around provisions for environmental governance, forest protection, and clean air. We also acknowledge, however, that the work to achieve the government’s ambitions only really begins now. As a framework law, the Act is an important foundation, with much relying on further targets, policies and detailed rules that are still to be developed. ClientEarth has consistently taken the position that, in order for the Act to fulfil its purpose, these must be strong enough and effectively enforced to protect people’s health and the environment.