Reforming Environmental Guidance Could Save Businesses £1bn, Says Defra

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UK businesses and the public are being asked to send ideas on how environmental rules and regulations can be made more straightforward.

Businesses could save more than £1bn over 10 years if environmental guidance were easier to find and follow, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said yesterday (16 May).

UK businesses and the public are being asked to send ideas on how volumes of environmental rules and regulations can be drawn together and made easier to find.

The Red Tape Challenge: The Smarter Guidance And Data, Defra hopes, will make it easier and cheaper for businesses to comply with regulations.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, said: “This is not about reducing the quality of environmental regulations. The same protection levels will stay. We want to make it easier for businesses to find and follow the law with a single version of straightforward guidance for each topic. Right now businesses are wading through too much complex information. We should also be smart about the information we ask from businesses and how we collect it.”

Taking up too much of businesses’ time can be an unseen barrier to growth, according to Defra and it hopes that with clearer, simpler guidance time and money for businesses can be saved and put to better use.

Owen Paterson – “This is not about reducing the quality of environmental regulations. The same protection levels will stay. We want to make it easier for businesses to find and follow the law with a single version of straightforward guidance for each topic”

“As we implement these reforms we will be asking you to tell us how we can make it easier for businesses to do their part in improving the environment,” Paterson said.

Regulation has an important role to play in improving the environment and more user-friendly guidance is needed to ensure the requirements of these regulations can be met easily.

Environment, energy and water chairman of the federation of small businesses, Allen Creedy said: “Initiatives like this can go a long way to easing the administrative cost of and the time it takes to comply with regulation. It can help to create a win-win situation ensuring small firms respect the environment while generating much needed growth for the economy.

“To help us make significant progress on these reforms over the next year we’ll be asking people to get online and give their views on how guidance and information requirements can be made more straightforward across a number of areas including waste, wildlife protection, environmental permits and land management. We will also publish draft pieces of guidance and ask for comments on how they can be improved.”

Commenting on the project, Sam Corp, ESA’s head of regulation said: “These regulations set the standards for how waste should be managed and lays down sanctions for those who break the rules. It is therefore vital that regulations and associated guidance are as clear as possible and that the provision of necessary data to the regulators is made easy for businesses”.

“It is, however, important that the ongoing drive to reduce unnecessary red tape is achieved without putting the environment or human health at risk, and that all operators, large and small, in the waste and resource management sector are working to the same high environmental standards. ESA’s overall objective is a regulatory system that allows for the best performing and consistently compliant companies to receive appropriate reputational benefit and ‘smarter’ regulation where existing systems are able to adequately demonstrate compliance and ensure protection of the environment and human health.”

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