1. Biodiversity is presently a key consideration in the planning system only where development is proposed on or nearby a site that is specifically protected, such as a SSSI.
The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (“the Conservation Regulations”) (and the equivalent offshore SI) is “retained EU law” under the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 (“EUWA 2018”) and, more specifically, “EU-derived domestic legislation”. This post briefly examines what that means, what further changes may be expected and some issues arising.
Mr Justice Holgate handed down judgment on 26 July 2021 in the case of R (Transport Action Network Ltd) v Secretary of State for Transport  EWHC 2095 (Admin). The case was a climate change focussed judicial review of the Government’s second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) set under s3 of the Infrastructure Act 2015. Highways England is to develop and construct the road schemes identified in RIS2. RIS2 covered 45 road schemes rolled forward from RIS1 and five new schemes, including the Lower Thames Crossing.
Much of the UK’s domestic environmental law is derived from EU law. This covers strategic environmental assessment, environmental impact assessment and the protection of habitats and species, amongst many other areas. The domestic regulations covering these areas qualify as retained EU law and now need to be considered and applied in light of the arrangements for dealing with EU exit
The Queen’s Speech of December 2019, i.e. that of the second Johnson government, announced a new Environment Bill, which would ‘enshrine in law environmental principles and legally-binding targets’. It was notable modification of the earlier statement about the same Bill made in October 2019 in the Queen’s Speech of the first Johnson government, which had stated that: ‘for the first time, environmental principles will be enshrined in law’.
The Office for Environmental Protection (“OEP”) is to be a new, independent, statutory body created under the Environment Bill to support environmental protection, improve the natural environment and hold public bodies to account. It is expected that the OEP will begin implementing its non-statutory functions in July.
This is the first of a two-part series on the net biodiversity gain provisions set out in the Environment Bill. They would make it a mandatory condition for most development to achieve a 10% biodiversity net gain in order to proceed.
On 10 May 2021, after six hours of plenary debates, the Climate Change Bill (Northern Ireland) 2021 (the Bill) passed its second stage, with 58 votes in favour and 29 against. Introduced on 22 March by Clare Bailey MLA, it remains the only attempt by the Assembly to put Northern Ireland’s climate change policy on a statutory footing.