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Written Statement - Introduction of the Environment (Wales) Bill

Carl Sargeant Minister for Natural Resources

I am pleased to announce I introduced the Environment (Wales) Bill into the National Assembly for Wales today.

Following on from the ground breaking Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, the Environment Bill focuses on the management of Wales’ resources which is fundamental to our ability to develop sustainably.  In order to secure prosperity for Wales, safeguarding the resilience of our natural resources and the services they provide, ensuring a clear pathway for decarbonisation and managing our resources effectively is vital.  If passed, this legislation will put in place the primary legislation needed to manage Wales’ resources sustainably in line with the framework in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and complement the wider legislative reform I am bringing forward through the Planning (Wales) Bill.

The Bill has been informed by both Green Paper and White Paper consultations - in 2012 and 2014 – and secures the changes needed to enable a more joined-up and proactive approach to managing Wales’ resources.

The provisions have been designed in a way that not only helps to tackle the strategic challenges we face - such as climate change or the continuing decline in biodiversity - but also focusses on the opportunities sustainably managing our resources can provide to support lasting benefits for our communities and the economy.

The Bill delivers directly against the Programme for Government commitment to introduce new environmental legislation and supports the delivery of related Programme for Government commitments in relation to supporting the transition to a low carbon economy, effective implementation of European legislation, and enhanced measures to reduce waste and build on Wales’ current successful recycling performance.

Specifically, the Bill:

  • Addresses fundamental weaknesses in the current statutory framework;
  • Puts in place modern legislation for managing Wales’ natural resources based on acknowledged international best practice that, as well as helping to tackle the challenges we face, is equally focused on identifying the opportunities our resources provide to develop sustainably;
  • Puts in place a stronger legislative framework to tackle the causes of climate change with at least an 80% emission reduction target by 2050.  Wales, along with the UK is part of a leading group of countries taking legislative action to tackle climate change.  
  • Provides the Welsh Ministers with the necessary powers to ensure that there is greater flexibility to adapt to any emerging consumer trends or unintended consequences of the single use carrier bags charging regime.
  • Further improves Wales’ waste management processes by making provision for waste recycling, better food waste treatment and increased energy recovery;
  • Enables the removal of unnecessary complexity, and simplifies processes and plans in relation to other regulated areas including, shellfisheries, land drainage and flood risk management. It also enables the marine licensing authority for Wales to charge fees associated with administering the marine licensing regime.  

The combined impact of the Bill provisions enable significant economic, social and environmental benefits for Wales and builds on the approach in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 that has already been recognised by the UN as world leading.

Working with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Planning (Wales) Bill, the Environment Bill will put in place the legislation needed to secure the long-term well-being of Wales and ensure that current and future generations benefit from a prosperous economy, a healthy and resilient environment and vibrant, cohesive communities.