FARMING groups have reacted angrily to the announcement by the Government to delay the long-awaited Environment Bill, which redraws rules after the UK’s departure from the EU.

Campaigners say this will harm action on air pollution and water quality, as well as other key issues. The proposed legislation would be the biggest shake-up of green regulation in decades.

Ministers said the delay, which means the flagship bill is unlikely to pass before the autumn, was necessary because dealing with the Covid-19 crisis left too little parliamentary time for debate.

Rebecca Pow, minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “We remain fully committed to the Environment Bill as a key part of delivering the Government’s manifesto commitment to create the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth."

Responding to the delay of the Environment Bill, CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “News of another delay to the Environment Bill is hugely unhelpful for the rural sector. There is once again significant uncertainty over how and when government’s flagship environmental plans can be delivered – with land managers across the country left in limbo.

“Farmers and landowners want to deliver positive environmental benefits on the land they manage, helping to reverse biodiversity decline and combat climate change. But many are relying on a move to the payments for public goods system, which is linked to key parts of the Environment Bill including local nature recovery networks.”