Fears red tape purge could “scale back environmental ambition”

The Prime Minister’s target of scrapping or amending more than 3,000 environmental regulations has led to fears the Government may end up “scaling back” its environmental ambition. The Environmental Industries […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The Prime Minister’s target of scrapping or amending more than 3,000 environmental regulations has led to fears the Government may end up “scaling back” its environmental ambition.

The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) which represents hundreds of firms in the environmental technologies and services sector warned a billion-pound market was at risk.

Matthew Farrow, the EIC’s Executive Director said: “The rhetoric used and the scale of what is planned is a major concern to the UK’s environmental industries and their investors – a sector worth £122 billion with 4.7% growth last year.

“At a time when we are repeatedly missing air quality targets and where our housing stock is some of the most energy inefficient, any scaling back of environmental ambition is not acceptable.”

Friends of the Earth’s Policy and Campaigns Director Craig Bennett worried the environment is becoming a “scapegoat” for the UK’s economic challenges.

He said: “Important rules that safeguard our health and environment are being lost in this ideologically-driven war on red-tape.”

Green building groups said boasting about cutting 80,000 pages of environmental regulation was “utterly reprehensible”.

Paul King, Chief Executive at the UK Green Building Council said: “It is the same poisonous political rhetoric from Number 10, devaluing environmental regulation in a slash and burn manner.”

Even those who are often critical of some carbon-cutting regulations being too costly had concerns of their own.

A spokesperson for manufacturers’ body EEF told ELN they didn’t have a “wish list” of regulations to ditch but just wanted less duplication of rules and clearer guidance on toeing the line.

Defra claimed the red tape blitz would happen “without altering the underlying laws and regulations”.

A spokesperson said: “By March 2015 we will reduce 100,000 pages of environmental guidance by over 80%, potentially saving businesses around £100m per year. This reduces unnecessary regulatory burdens particularly for smaller businesses while retaining and strengthening environmental protection.”