UK legislative agenda disappoints green groups

IPPC, water charging, bills to be introduced, action for greener transport deferred

The UK government yesterday outlined its legislative agenda for the year ahead with a main focus on constitutional, welfare and health issues. Only two new environmental laws were announced - one to transpose the 1996 EU directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control into UK law and another to force water companies to offer free water meters to households upon request. Dropped from the agenda - despite pressure up till the last minute from NGOs - was a bill to promote greater use of public transport throughout the country. Publishing a white paper on sustainable transport in the summer, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had promised a "new dawn" for UK transport policy with new powers for local authorities to introduce congestion and car parking charges and incentives to increase walking, cycling and bus use (ENDS Daily 21 July). The only plan for congestion charging announced yesterday was a pilot scheme in London under powers to be given to a new Greater London Authority to be created in 2000. The government has also promised draft legislation to create a national strategic rail authority and a food standards agency to monitor safety in the wake of the BSE crisis. NGOs last night accused the prime minister of reneging on an election promise to put the environment at the heart of government.

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