LONDON-A bill to tackle environmental priorities is to be published by the government later. It aims to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution, restore wildlife, and protect the climate. Environmentalists have welcomed several of the proposals, especially on restoring nature. But they say on other green issues ministers are going backwards - and they’re anxious to see details of the new policies.

Under EU rules, for instance, the government has faced heavy fines for failing to meet air quality standards. With Brexit set to remove the stick of these rules, an independent watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection, is being created to hold the government to account.

Ministers say the watchdog won’t be able to fine the government if it fails to uphold its commitments - but will ensure it is held to account, with the ability to stop projects and hold authorities in contempt of court if they breach environmental standards. But campaigners fear that the new watchdog could be muzzled, tamed and stripped of funding. ‘Only big changes’ will tackle climate change Plastic bag sales in England halved in past year Estate agents urged to tell buyers about pollution.

Conservative peer Lord Randall - a green adviser to former prime minister Theresa May - told BBC News that the Treasury appeared to have relaxed its objections to a powerful independent watchdog.