This content is exclusively provided by FAO / FAOLEX

Environment Act 2021 (Chapter 30).

Type of law

The Environment Act 2021 ("the Act") is organised in 8 Parts and 21 Schedules. Part 1 provides a legal framework for environmental governance; it sets out a discipline for improving the natural environment and establishes the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), a new, statutory and independent environmental body, having as its principal objective to contribute to environmental protection and the improvement of the natural environment, with functions of scrutiny, advice and enforcement. Part 1 regulates environmental targets (sections 1-7), for instance it allows the Secretary of State to set, by regulations, long-term targets in respect of any matter which relates to the natural environment, or people s enjoyment of the natural environment; it specifies that this power must be exercised in respect of at least one matter within each priority area (air quality; water; biodiversity; resource efficiency and waste reduction) and requires the government to meet long-term targets, and to prepare remedial plans where long-term targets are not met. It also requires the government to set and meet an air quality target for fine particulate matter in ambient air and a target relating to the abundance of species. It also establishes the process by which a long-term target is set and amended. Moreover Part 1 requires the government to have, and maintain, an Environmental Improvement Plan (sections 8-15), a plan to significantly improve the natural environment, which sets out the steps the government intends to take to improve the natural environment and the interim targets towards meeting the long-term targets. The Part continues providing powers to the Secretary of the State to exercise environmental monitoring functions (section 16); requiring the Secretary of the State to prepare a policy statement on environmental principles explaining how the environmental principles specified under the Act are to be interpreted and proportionately applied by Ministers of the Crown when making policy (sections 17-19); requiring the government to publish a report on the impact of all new environmental primary legislation (section 20); and requiring the government to undertake a report on developments in International environmental protection legislation intended as legislation of countries and territories outside the United Kingdom, and international organisations, that is mainly concerned with environmental protection.
Part 2, the Environmental Governance: Northern Ireland includes provisions to extend the application of the OEP to Northern Ireland, and make separate provision for Environmental Improvement Plans and environmental principles in Northern Ireland.
Part 3 to 7 and Schedules 4 to 21 make provisions for specific improvement of the environment and amends several Acts and Regulations. Part 3 and Schedules 4 to 10 contains measures on waste and resource efficiency. Schedule 4 to 9 confers power on the relevant national authority respectively to make regulations about producer responsibility obligations and its enforcement; requiring the payment of sums in respect of the costs of disposing of products and materials; about the provision of resource efficiency information and its enforcement; about resource efficiency requirements and its enforcement; establishing deposit schemes; and about charges for single use items. Part 3 for instance ensure households have a weekly separate food waste collection; requires producers to pay the full net cost of managing their products at end of life to incentivize more sustainable use of resources; enable the government to set resource efficient product standards and information and labelling requirements; allow the Environment Agency to be more flexible and responsive in managing exempt waste sites; and enable the Secretary of State to regulate the import, export or transit of waste for export, and hazardous waste.
Part 4, Air quality and environmental recall, amends the Environment Act 1995 to strengthen the requirements in respect of the National Air Quality Strategy and clarifies duties between different levels of local government, and other relevant public bodies, in the preparation of Local Air Quality Action Plans. It also amends Part 3 of the Clean Air Act 1993 providing for mandatory recall notices for vehicles and equipment that do not comply with relevant environmental standards.
Part 5, Water, includes provisions to change the procedural requirements for Water Resources Management Plans and Drought Plans; requires the preparation of Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans by sewerage undertakers, to better plan for the management of waste water; place new duties on government, the Environment Agency and sewerage undertakers to require actions for reducing the frequency and harm of discharges from storm overflows on the environment, set requirements for monitoring the quality of water potentially affected by those discharges, and for reporting on those discharges, annually and in real time, etc.
Part 6, Nature and Biodiversity, includes provisions to amend section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 to strengthen and improve the duty on public bodies to conserve and enhance biodiversity, in accordance with the proper exercise of their functions; mandates net gain in biodiversity through the planning system; requires the preparation and publication of Local Nature Recovery Strategies, a tool to direct action for nature, and place an emphasis on supporting local leadership of nature improvement; provides for Species Conservation and Protected Site Strategies to improve the conservation and protection of the most vulnerable species and habitats; addresses illegal deforestation in supply chains.
Part 7, Conservation Covenants, includes provisions to provide for Conservation Covenants: voluntary, legally binding private agreements between landowners and responsible bodies, designated by the Secretary of State, that contains provision which (i) is of a qualifying kind, (ii) has a conservation purpose, and (iii)is intended by the parties to be for the public good, (b) it appears from the agreement that the parties intend to create a conservation covenant, and (c) the agreement is executed as a deed by the parties.
Part 8, Miscellaneous and General Provisions, includes provision to amend two pieces of retained European Union law relating to the regulation of chemicals; section 146 concerns extent.
Long title of text
An Act to make provision about targets, plans and policies for improving the natural environment; for statements and reports about environmental protection; for the Office for Environmental Protection; about waste and resource efficiency; about air quality; for the recall of products that fail to meet environmental standards; about water; about nature and biodiversity; for conservation covenants; about the regulation of chemicals; and for connected purposes.
Date of text
Source language


Legislation Amendment