UK environmental targets are difficult to enforce, lawyers say

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    The binding targets in the UK Environment Bill are embedded in a weak framework.

    The Bill foresees several environmental targets such as on air quality, water, waste, biodiversity. But Client Earth UK points to several weaknesses, relating mainly to a lack of mandatory action.

    First of all, the Secretary of State is instructed to prepare an environmental improvement plan, the main task of which is to improve the environment, not to reach the targets. No minimum content requirements are mandated.

    If targets are missed, the Secretary of State must publish a report presenting steps that have or will be taken to address the issue. But there is no obligation to actually implement those steps.

    Finally, if there are “changes in circumstances” and targets become too hard to be achieved, the government can change their scope or revoke them.

    These loose provisions leave judges with few instruments to enforce the targets, according to Client Earth UK.

    From “A Greener UK Webinar in partnership with Leigh Day Environmental Review – fit for purpose?”

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