The Environmental Side of the Queen’s Speech

The Queen’s Speech in Parliament today, in which she set out the legislative agenda for the Government, was just 7 minutes long. This is far shorter than normal, and reflects the fact that there is very little parliamentary time between now and the next election for the passage of new Bills.

The speech did however still contain some proposals of note from an ecological perspective. A proposed ‘Energy Bill’ would support the construction of up to four Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) demonstration schemes to reduce emissions from coal power plants, whilst a ‘Flooding & Water Management Bill’ would require sustainable drainage systems to be considered for new building developments and give water companies more power to control customers’ water usage during droughts. The Government will also respond to proposals on high-speed rail between England and Scotland.

One draft environmental bill proposed in June has been dropped however- the Antarctica Bill. This would have implemented a new annex to the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty, introducing a ‘polluter-pays mechanism’ to act as a deterrent to irresponsible operators in the region. It would also have established a liability regime for environmental emergencies.

It remains to be seen how many of the proposals retained in the speech actually make it into law. For a comprehensive list of all the Bills proposed by the Government, please see here.