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Heavy Handed compliance adds to business costs

By Rebecca Thyer

The Governments implementation and policing of environmental legislation is adding unnecessarily to businesses annual £4 billion compliance bill, according to the Confederation of British Industries (CBI).

It believed that the Environment Agency (EA) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) were starting to improve, although business had yet to see any benefit.

CBI deputy director-general John Cridland said firms were not trying to avoid their environmental responsibilities but wanted the Government to help them comply in a cost-effective way.

Too much environmental regulation is badly designed and poorly implemented. We are not anti-regulation or against rigorous enforcement but we make no apology for complaining about sloppy laws that are implemented poorly and enforced in an ill-considered fashion.

The EA was insufficiently sensitive to competitive business environments, with enforcement inconsistent and not targeted at areas where there was most environmental risk, the CBI said.

However, the EA has hit back. Chief executive Barbara Young said: Environmental regulation has been crucial in raising the environmental performance of British industry. But she added there was still a gap between the best and the rest.

DEFRA was criticised by the CBI for its track record on implementing European legislation in a business-friendly fashion and its ability to influence EU policies.

CBI stated that hazardous waste disposal was a prime example: there have been delays in key decisions and firms remained uncertain about disposal and treatment.

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