The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released in mid September 2012 a detailed Environmental Theme Implementation Plan containing target dates and detailed proposals for regulatory reform to be achieved over the next 3 years. The plan outlines expected changes and consultation dates for environmental and waste regulations. It is part of the government-run ‘Red Tape Challenge’ that states it aims to free up business and society from ‘the burden of excessive regulation.’
The plan stems from the Red Tape Challenge Environmental Theme spotlight last year, which concluded that of 255 environmental regulations, 132 will be improved, mainly through simplification or consolidation; 70 will be kept as they are, to uphold important environmental protections; and 53 obsolete regulations would be removed.
Annex 1 to the implementation plan contains a detailed table, ordered by proposal in areas including air quality, biodiversity, carbon reduction, chemicals (including contaminated land), environmental permitting, landscape, noise and nuisance, waste, and environment agency.
The plan also contains the following target dates:
- Within 1 year of announcement (Common Commencement Date (CCD) April 2013): Proposals that are easy to implement, provide significant benefits to business/citizens and are probably not controversial;
- Between 1-2 years of announcement (CCD April 2014): Proposals that will require more preparation, perhaps significant consultation and may be controversial but still provide meaningful benefits to business/citizens; and
- More than 2 years from announcement (normally by CCD April 2015): Measures that may require significant resources or time to implement (such as changes to primary legislation) or which are likely to provide only limited benefits to business/citizens.
Defra has said that it will make environmental regulations 'simpler' and save businesses £1billion. On the other hand, some environmental groups are concerned that the government has gone too far and is cutting many environmental safeguards addressing the nation’s land, air, and water.
Similarly, on November 19, 2012 Business Minister Michael Fallon announced the latest Government step in its bid to reduce the burden on business by cutting the costs of red tape on business at double the present rate. The new ‘One-in, Two-out’ rule will be imposed from January 2013, and it will mean that every new regulation that imposes a new financial burden on firms must be offset by reductions in red tape to hopefully save double the costs. This rule will be enforced across every Whitehall department and will apply to all domestic regulation affecting businesses and voluntary organizations.
One-in, Two-out builds on a One-in, One-out rule that applied from January 2011 to December 2012, and replaces it. That rule prevented any government department from introducing new regulation that would impose a direct net cost on business and voluntary organizations unless the department could find savings by removing or modifying another regulation of an equivalent cost. ‘One-in, Two-out’ will also operate in this way - but the removal or modification must be of twice the equivalent cost. Additionally, like ‘One-in, One-out’, ‘One-in, Two-Out’ will not apply to EU legislation unless it has been converted into UK law in a way that goes beyond minimum EU requirements.
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Ellen Pinkos Cobb, J.D. a Senior Regulatory & Legal Analyst at The Isosceles Group in Boston, Massachusetts, has many years of experience in the employment discrimination law field and has spent the last three years extensively focusing on workplace psychosocial issues including bullying and harassment. She is also the author of Bullying, Violence, Harassment, Discrimination and Stress: Emerging Workplace Health and Safety Issues, an international review of legislation, compliance guidelines, and developments on workplace bullying.