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Environment (Wales) Act 2016

The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 (‘the Act’) includes provision for:

  • planning and managing Wales’ natural resources at a national and local level;
  • providing Natural Resources Wales (NRW) with a general purpose linked to statutory ‘principles of sustainable management of natural resources’ defined within the Bill;
  • enhancing the powers available to NRW to undertake land management agreements and experimental schemes;
  • providing a requirement for public authorities to maintain and enhance biodiversity;
  • creating a statutory framework for action on climate change including targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses;
  • reforming the law on charges for carrier bags;
  • providing powers to Welsh Ministers in relation to waste recycling (including the separate collection of waste) and food waste treatment;
  • making provision about several and regulated orders for fisheries for shellfish;
  • fees for marine licences;
  • establishing a Flood and Coastal Erosion Committee; and
  • changes to the law on land drainage and byelaws made by NRW.

The Explanatory Notes to the Act provide detailed commentary on the various provisions.

Coming into force

Part 8 of the Act came into force on 21 March 2016, which is the day the Act received Royal Assent, in accordance with section 88(1). Parts 1, 2 and 5, and sections 82, 84, 85 and 86 came into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which this Act received Royal Assent. The remaining provisions of this Act come into force on a day appointed by the Welsh Ministers in an order made by statutory instrument, in accordance with section 88(3). The following orders have been made:

Subordinate legislation made under the Act:

TitleCitation number (statutory instruments only)Made dateComing into force dateSupporting documents
The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 (Public Authorities subject to the Biodiversity and Resilience of Ecosystems Duty) Regulations 20212021 No. 1350 (W. 349)1 December 20213 December 2021Explanatory Memorandum
The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 (Amendment of 2050 Emissions Target) Regulations 20212021 No. 333 (W. 88)17 March 202119 March 2021Explanatory Memorandum

Consideration of the legislation by the Senedd

The Bill was introduced by Carl Sargeant AM, who was the Minister for Natural Resources at the time, on 11 May 2015, and was passed on 2 February 2016.

More information about the Bill is available on the Senedd’s website, including a record of the passage of the Bill through Senedd (known then as the National Assembly for Wales) and the Explanatory Memorandum that was prepared by the Welsh Government (as revised at Stage 2). 

The Act received Royal Assent on 21 March 2016.

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Last updated
03 January 2024