Reducing ‘alphabet soup’ of environmental legislation ‘not working’ says UK manufacturing body


red-tapeAttempts to rein in environmental red tape are proving underpowered, according to UK manufacturers. The current government must go further to reduce the plethora of environmental legislation and taxes currently hampering UK competitiveness, according to manufacturing and engineering body EEF.

The organisation’s latest survey found that less than one in ten manufacturers had saved time or money as a result of the previous government’s red tape blitzes. One a quarter of firms surveyed thought efforts have had the right focus with around a third suggesting that red tape culls should focus more on Europe rather than UK.

The findings are published in a new EEF report, Green tape: manufacturers’ views of progress on Defra’s regulatory reform agenda. The report is published as the new government consults on cutting back on environmental taxes.

It states that while Defra’s attempts to scale back green red tape are welcome, it is still well short of the ultimate goal, according to EEF. That is, a single point of access for guidance for each core area and one single data reporting system for all environmental data.

“Our report shows that manufacturers remain committed to addressing environmental and climate concerns, but are still having to wade through unnecessary levels of complexity and red tape in order to do so, which in too many cases is holding them back,” said Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF.

“The previous government got off to a good start in identifying the roadblock caused by poor legislation and began to take steps to simplify the stock of guidance and legislation in this area.

“There is, however, a real appetite in the sector for bolder reform that increases fairness, creates markets and improves the environment without damaging competitiveness, impeding innovation or creating barriers to trade, investment and efficiency.”

The report makes eight key recommendations:

  1. Government should commit to wide-sweeping reform of environmental legislation to rationalise and consolidate the existing stock, but without compromising the levels of environmental protection afforded by it.
  1. Ministers should follow the principle set in the “Lӧfsted review” of health and safety law to consolidate all national environmental legislation.
  1. A ‘cost barometer’ should be established to ensure the cumulative costs of regulation, both domestic and European, are routinely assessed and considered during future policy making and policy reviews.
  1. Make the work of the EU Red Tape Business Task Force ongoing and broaden its scope to include areas of policy beyond those explored in the Task Force’s first report.
  1. Defra should continue to provide a lead to the “Make it Work” initiative in order to establish consensus in Europe of the need for reform.
  1. Defra should use relevant Stakeholder forums to monitor comprehension and ease of accessing guidance systematically over time.
  1. Government must explore stable options to finance the data reporting improvements identified. Priority should be given to establishing a single data reporting system.
  1. Where possible, parallel reform in Scotland and Wales should also be explored.

See the full report here.

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