Policy update - Smarter guidance and reporting

10th June 2013

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  • Guidance ,
  • UK government ,
  • Corporate governance ,
  • Business & Industry



Martin Baxter, IEMA's executive director of policy, looks at plans by Defra to streamline regulatory guidance

Defra has launched the next phase of its environment-theme “red tape challenge”, focusing on simplifying guidance and data reporting.

Anything that helps people find their way around the 6,000 environmental guidance documents so they understand better whether a particular law or regulation applies to their organisation, and, if so, how and what’s required to comply, has to be a good thing.

If data reporting can be streamlined, such that key information only needs to be reported once and used many times, then that must also be encouraged.

There are, of course, pitfalls that need to be avoided. While some of the guidance is used to encourage and showcase best practice, other guidance has been developed to steer a route through complex legislation. In many cases it can be relatively clear whether a particular legal requirement applies to an organisation.

However, more extensive guidance can be helpful to people in understanding the “grey” areas, where the application of requirements is less clear cut. The government needs to ensure that in simplifying the guidance, it doesn’t make it more difficult for companies to know precisely what is required.

Data reporting can benefit from new technology, allowing real-time sharing, processing and reporting of information.

The challenge will be in reconciling the different reporting regimes. For example, the reporting requirements for the forthcoming mandatory reporting of greenhouse-gas emissions differ to those that already apply for the carbon reduction commitment energy efficiency scheme and for pollution prevention and control permits.

Simplifying guidance and reporting is a long-term project, but with significant potential benefits for business. IEMA members will have the opportunity to engage in this work.

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