The UK has postponed the Environment bill yet again after saying that the pandemic has led to a lack of sufficient time to properly scrutinise it.

Campaigners reacted to the news and said it would harm key issues including clean air and water. The delay in the bill will mean that it is unlikely to be passed before Autumn.

“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,” said Rebecca Pow, minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

“Carrying over the bill to the next session [of parliament] does not diminish our ambition for our environment in any way,” added Pow.

Work on the Environment bill began in July 2018 and has been delayed three times already.

The Environment bill will long-term binding targets for improving the UK’s natural world that was previously under EU laws. The bill covers issues such as air pollution and water quality, waste, resource use.

RSPB chief executive, Beccy Speight, said: “The slow, stop-start nature of the Environment Bill passage does not help us take the rapid action needed to tackle the nature and climate emergency.

“Our only hope is that this delay is used to improve the bill. Environmental groups including the RSPB have made a series of measured and sensible improvements, such as legally binding targets to turn the tide on the loss of nature, and these should now be seriously considered.

“These changes would help us get our own house in order at a time when the prime minister wants to show international leadership in the run-up to the key global biodiversity and climate summits later this year,” she added.

Craig Bennett, is the chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts. He said: “The news of yet more delay is deeply troubling. The prime minister said the bill was ‘the huge star of our legislative programme… a lodestar by which we will guide our country towards a cleaner, and greener future’.

“The fact that the government plans to end the Parliamentary session over a year on without having delivered the ‘star’ of the programme will raise questions over its commitment to leaving the environment in a better state for the next generation.

“Recently, the prime minister explicitly committed to taking urgent action to put nature on a path to recovery by 2030 as part of the UN Decade of Action. But over a year into the decade, very little progress has been made.”