A post-Brexit bill triggering the biggest shake-up of the UK's environmental regulation in decades has returned to parliament today following a string of delays.
The Environment Bill, first announced in 2018, is seeking to put into law long-term binding targets for improving the environment and the natural world.
The legislation returned to parliament on Wednesday (26 May) for Report Stage and Third Reading in the House of Commons.
Measures in the bill include new ways to tackle waste crime, seen as a blight on rural communities and costly to agricultural businesses.
The government has also proposed a number of amendments, including a legally-binding target on species abundance for 2030.
The Environment Bill will also crack down on water companies that discharge sewage into rivers.
Defra's environment minister Rebecca Pow said: "It is vital that we address the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss and protect and improve the environment for future generations.
"The bill will ensure we deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth, which is why it is essential that we complete its passage into law as soon as possible."
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said it was a 'welcome relief' to see the 'much-delayed' bill return.
"Now the hard work really starts if government is serious about it becoming law this year," said Mark Bridgeman, CLA president.
“While there are some areas of concern, such as water abstraction and the exclusion of heritage, we support the bill’s robust framework for environmental governance with long-terms plans and targets.
"The bill must work hand-in-hand with the Agriculture Act and land management schemes to ensure the environment is well preserved for future generations.”