Decision details

Implications of the Environment Act 2021

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report that set out the key implications of the Environment Act 2021 as they related to the Council, its policies and functions.  The report also set out the timescales over which key provisions of the Act came into force, summarised the resource implications of these provisions and invited the Committee to consider and advise on how some of these implications might be addressed going forward.  A summary of Environment Act provisions and implications for local authorities was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

The report explained that the Environment Act had passed into law in November 2021 and had created new obligations and powers, or had amended the existing framework of obligations and powers, for protection and enhancement of the natural environment.  The Act gave statutory force to some of the policy aspirations that had been set out in the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan.  While some of the provisions within the Act had some implications for local authorities, either as regulator, public body or a decision maker, the following were likely to be among the most important implications for the Council:

·         Waste and Resource Efficiency;

·         Air Quality;

·         Restoring Nature.

The Council already had policies in place covering many of the areas that had been included in the Act, either in its Local Plan, Local Transport Plan, Air Quality Action Plan, Waste Strategy or the Reading Climate Emergency Strategy.  Changes to these policies or their implementation might be required to take account of the new obligations and powers that had been created by the Act.

The report stated that one issue for the Council to consider was how best to take forward those obligations which either needed to be progressed jointly with neighbouring authorities, such as the duty to prepare a Local Nature Recovery Strategy at Berkshire scale, or which might benefit from being taken forward jointly.  The report therefore set out proposals for such collaboration and for the pooling of resources where this would enable new obligations to be met more efficiently.  This could include the pooling of ‘additional burdens’, funding received or the creation of joint roles where this would better enable the provision of the Act to be implemented more effectively.

The report explained that the Government was providing funding for local authorities in accordance with the ‘additional burdens’ principle and while some of this funding had been confirmed, for example, a sum of £20,094 in relation to new obligations on Biodiversity Net Gain, other funding was less clear, such as, for Local Nature Recovery Strategies which might be provided to the nominated ‘responsible authority’ (Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead in the case of Berkshire).  Officers confirmed that it was expected that more funding would be received.

The Committee discussed the report, and it was reported that some residents wanted to see the end of the booking system at the Smallmead Recycling Centre and a return to the ‘tip-and-go’ approach that had been in place prior to the pandemic. Officers advised the Committee that any waste issues arising from the Act would generally be considered by Housing Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee.

Resolved –

(1)     That the new obligations and powers arising from the Environment Act 2021 as they apply to central and local government be noted;

(2)     That the Council’s collaboration with the other Berkshire authorities, including the pooling of resources as required, to discharge the new responsibilities in relation to the provisions of the Act on ‘Restoring Nature’, particularly in relation to the development of a Local Nature Recovery Strategy for Berkshire be approved.

Publication date: 28/07/2022

Date of decision: 07/07/2022

Decided at meeting: 07/07/2022 - Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Accompanying Documents: