Here we go with the first smallish announcement of the many to come this week from the Government on deregulation. This is the Red Tape Challenge, and Defra has just published the report with recommendations for simplifying regulations that are a burden on businesses.
I’m not going to comment on the proposals for simplifying/reducing regulations affecting waste, contaminated land, noise etc. because these are not my area of expertise.Suffice to say the Government reckon about half the estimated £1bn over 5 years saved in this exercise will come from reducing the regulation around contaminated land remediation.
Moving onto things I do know about (eg the Habitat Regulations) I was struck by this headline from the report
“You said that the UK’s implementation of the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives is burdensome for businesses, especially development and construction companies.”
This is an interesting use of the word “you”. . It certainly cannot be an overall average “you” referring to the responses from consultees to the RTC, which were overwhelmingly in favour (97%) of existing or tougher wildlife protection.
Perhaps the “you” refers to the Chancellor who told Defra in the Autumn statement that they would have to carry out a review of the Habs Regs.
Moving on, Natural England will “continue to improve the way it regulates” by, amongst other things
Using a series of Industry Groups and Customer Panels to advise both on priorities for improvements and the detail of new products and services to ensure they work to best effect, complementing business models and ways of working.
Working closely with developers to understand the costs associated with its licensing services and develop a new methodology to understand and quantify the monetary impacts of delays and risk.
It’s one small step from developing a methodology to quantify a monetary cost associated with a risk, to adopting a risk-based approach, to deciding not to oppose a development. ok, two small steps.
Earned recognition is also rearing its head in this RTC, just as it did in the Farming Regulation Taskforce report. The idea is that businesses who have been compliant get less regulatory burden. This is all very well, but businesses, like people, change. Businesses get taken over, merged etc – will earned recognition be passed from the previous owner of a business to the next one?
Needless to say there is a very large appendix to the report, with proposals for dealing with the many regulations and laws, ranging from scrap to simplify. It remains to be seen what exactly the proposals will mean for wildlife protection in England.