Cameron rehashes cuts to regulation

28th January 2014

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Rachel Kennedy

Announcing the final results of the government's initiative to cut 'red tape', the prime minister cited forthcoming changes to Defra guidance as a key success

In a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses, David Cameron claimed that his ‘red tape challenge’ initiative, which launched in 2011, has enabled the government to identify thousands of pieces of legislation effecting businesses that can be scrapped or changed.

“We have trawled through thousands of pieces of regulation – from the serious to the ridiculous, and we will be scrapping or amending over 3,000 regulations – saving business well over £850 million every single year,” he said.

Cameron highlighted forthcoming changes to guidance on environmental regulation as an example of how the government is reducing the burden of regulation on businesses.

“We will make it vastly easier and cheaper for businesses to meet environmental obligations – by March 2015 Defra will have slashed 80,000 pages of environmental guidance saving businesses around £100 million a year,” he said.

The benefits of streamlining Defra guidance were announced by the environment secretary in May 2013, and the department is currently asking for feedback on its new ‘smart’ online guidance database:

In March 2012, Defra revealed the list of 186 environmental regulations to be shortened, consolidated or scrapped as a result of the red tape challenge review. These included the revoking rules mandating site waste management plans (SWMPs) and consolidating legislation on the producer responsibility regime.

The government has now published a full list of all the regulations being amended as a result of the review, which covered areas including health and safety, employment, transport and planning.

The document confirms that some of Defra’s planned amendments have already been implemented, such as scrapping SWMPs, while others, including improvements to streamline the environmental permitting regime and to consolidate legislation related to REACH, are still in progress.

While the full list of regulatory didn’t include any specific amendments to environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulation, Josh Fothergill, IEMA’s policy lead on planning, commented that changes to the regime are still likely. “We know that the government has intentions to increase the threshold that insist where an EIA should be carried out,” he commented.

“This has the potential to make smaller projects progress faster, but requirements for screening to avoid legal action would still exist. This may lead to additional and unnecessary uncertainty for both developers and communities.”

Fothergill contributed to a debate on Cameron's announcement on the Guardian website. To read the article click here.

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