Read PLP’s briefing on the Environment Bill

PLP is concerned that the proposed ‘environmental review’ procedure set out in the Environment Bill will inadequately protect the rule of law and will fail to secure adequate environmental protection.

The Environment Bill establishes a new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) which will be responsible for oversight and enforcement of environmental law following the UK’s departure from the European Union; the OEP will have the power to bring an ‘environmental review’.

Limitations with the ‘environmental review’ process mean that the courts may be unable to offer effective remedies, even when public authority decisions have been found to be unlawful.

Where a court conducting environmental review finds a breach of environmental law, it must issue a “statement of non-compliance”. Whilst public bodies will be required to publish a response to any such statement, they will not be required to undertake any substantive action. This is a toothless remedy. The Bill also severely limits the circumstances in which courts can grant any other remedy on an environmental review.

We agree with the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law that the Bill has the potential to “radically alter the balance of power in favour of executive action, and against the environment, the courts and the citizen”.

This Bill should be seen in the context of the Government’s wider plans for constitutional reform. The problems identified in this legislation foreshadow reforms to judicial review on which the Government has recently consulted.

Read PLP’s briefing on the Environment Bill