Environmental Laws

There are numerous environmental laws in the UK that cover everything from fly-tipping, littering, pollution, wildlife, conservation, climate change, noise and planning. However, knowing or understanding which law pertains to what aspect of the environment can be difficult.

To help you understand more about each of these laws, we have provided you with a list of some of the more important and given you links that will take you through each of them in far greater detail.

Pollution Environmental Laws

Pollution is a huge risk to both the environment and to our health and there are a few laws that have been passed to help reduce, prevent and control the many types of pollution that we might be exposed to.

  • Control of Pollution Act 1974

The Control of Pollution Act was passed to cover a number of environmental issues such as air, noise, water and atmospheric pollution as well as waste on land.

  • Environmental Protection Act

Established in 1974, the Environment Protection Act is the environmental law in the UK that controls waste management and emissions into the environment.

Wildlife Environmental Laws

Of course, our environment extends to the wildlife that lives in the UK as well and as you can see below, there are numerous laws in place to help protect it. Everything from the countryside, wild birds, badgers, hunting and weeds are covered by UK law.

  • Wildlife and Countryside Act

The Wildlife and Countryside Act was put in place in 1981 and complies with the European Council Directives on the conservation of wild birds.

  • Weeds Act 1959

Passed to enforce the prevention of injurious weed species on private lands in the UK, the Weeds Act primarily targets species such as Broad Leaved Dock, Common Ragwort, Creeping Whistle and Spear Thistle.

  • Badgers Act

Whilst not an endangered species, Badgers in the UK are protected by the Badgers Act which makes it illegal to attempt to kill, injure or interfere with the setts of badgers without a valid license.

  • Protection of Badgers Act 1992

The Protection of Badgers Act was passed in 1992 to further consolidate the Badgers Act 1973, 1991 and the Badgers (Further Protection) Act in 1991.

  • Hunting Act 2004

Using dogs to hunt mammals in the UK such as foxes, hare and mink is illegal due to the Hunting Act which was passed in 2004. Dogs are only allowed to be used to flush out these mammals for the purpose of being shot during a hunt.

Conservation Environmental Laws

Conservation of our national parks, listed buildings, monuments, countryside and right of way is another area of environmental law in the UK. Below you will learn a little more about the current laws that are enforced in England, Wales and Scotland.

  • Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

First established in 1990, the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act controls laws that help to protect listed buildings and conservation areas in the UK.

  • National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949

Under the UK Government Agency called English Nature, the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act control the creation of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Beauty in the UK as well as addressing public rights of way.

  • Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 was a law that was passed in the UK to protect any building or structure that has been classed as a monument. This makes it an illegal offence to damage a monument.

  • Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000

Established to give people the freedom and right to roam uncultivated areas of the UK such as mountains, moors, heaths and downs, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act was passed in 2000.

Climate Change Environmental Laws

Laws concerning climate change are some of the most talked about when it comes to environmental laws in the UK and below you will find links and information regarding each of them. You will learn about laws set to reduce carbon emissions and the efficiency and use of energy across the UK.

  • Climate Change Act 2008

Established in 2008, the Climate Change Act is an environmental law designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the UK. Binding targets have been set that will reduce these emissions from levels recorded in 1990 by at least 80% by 2050.

  • Planning and Energy Act 2008

The Planning and Energy Act 2008 is a law in the UK that allows planning authorities in England and Wales to impose requirements on local planning applications regarding energy use and efficiency.

  • Energy Act 2020

The Energy Act 2011 relates to UK enterprise law which requires energy providers to meet certain energy efficiency requirements when providing energy to consumers. Obligations include carbon emissions reductions and home heating costs reductions.