Environmental protection standards in Britain are “under threat” as inspection and enforcement budgets are cut, according to new analysis.
The Unchecked.uk campaign’s analysis, published today (20 August), suggests a decline in the budgets and staff of enforcement agencies overseeing vital areas of public policy – including environmental protection.
This has created what the campaign is calling a dangerous “enforcement gap”.
In a letter to The Times, twenty organisations joined together to warn that “steep reduction in inspections and monitoring of regulated business in recent years risks undermining the achievement of public policy objectives.”
We need a properly funded regulator to underpin our vital environmental protections. Businesses that effectively manage compliance with environmental regulations shouldn’t be undercut by those who flout the rules
Emma Rose of Unchecked.uk said: “The analysis we are publishing today is alarming, and is cause for serious national concern. With important regulators operating with on average 50% less funding than ten years ago, there is a need for a closer look at the state of our public protection infrastructure.”
Martin Baxter, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) chief policy advisor said: “We need a properly funded regulator to underpin our vital environmental protections. Businesses that effectively manage compliance with environmental regulations shouldn’t be undercut by those who flout the rules.”
According to the campaign:
- EA prosecutions have fallen by 80% between 2009/10-2016/17.
- Prosecutions for illegal or incorrect waste disposal has fallen by 33% between 2009/10-2017/18.
- Between 2010/11-2016/17 EA environmental protection budget fell by 62% in real terms.
Letter to The Times
“Our organisations represent diverse interests and priorities, but we are united in our concern about the growing pressure on local and national enforcement bodies, designed to keep us safe.
“Never has it been more important to invest in our collective safeguards, yet analysis from the Unchecked.uk campaign shows the extent of the decline in the budgets and staff of enforcement agencies overseeing vital areas of public policy. The country is asking local authorities and key regulators, including the Food Standards Agency, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and others, to do their work with on average 50 per cent less funding than ten years ago.
“The steep reduction in inspections and monitoring of regulated business in recent years risks undermining the achievement of public policy objectives, and the shift towards industry self-reporting leaves the regulatory system vulnerable to abuse.
“If enforcement teams are to continue their invaluable work to protect UK citizens, they must be properly equipped.”
Unchecked is a project of The Ecology Trust, a grant-making charity established in 2003, which seeks to tackle the root causes of environmental and societal problems
You can read Unchecked.uk’s briefing paper here www.unchecked.uk
Signatories to the letter include IEMA, Green Alliance and Friends of the Earth.