UK Government Moves Forward on Environmental Regulatory Reform and Reducing Business Burden
Over the past couple of years, the UK government has undertaken a series of regulatory reviews aimed at simplifying regulatory requirements and burden on its society. We reported this past on the review related to workplace health and safety called the Löfstedt Review. A similar effort has been undertaken for the environmental regulations.
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:
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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