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Manufacturers call for green policy changes

Manufacturers are calling for a wide-ranging reform of green laws, a survey has suggested.

A report by trade organistation EEF showed almost three-quarters of its 150 respondents wanted to see legislative reform of environmental and climate change policies.

Some 71% said cutting back on green legislation was important to their business, but less than 10% thought that red tape culls to date have saved them time or money.

While a quarter backed the cuts made so far, 41% said they thought the Government had not gone far enough.

Some 37% said attempts to reform green legislation had been ineffective because they focused on the UK rather than the EU, where the majority of legislation originated.

The report,Green tape: manufacturers’ views of progress on Defra’s regulatory reform agenda, says there are at least 10 pieces of legislation affecting manufacturers on waste alone.

It comes while the Government is running public consultations on how to cut red tape in five sectors, including waste, aimed at finding ways to contribute to business secretary Sajid Javid’s plan to reduce the cost of regulation to business by £10bn.

The EEF wants a single data reporting system while other suggestions include:

  • Principles set out in the 2011 Lӧfsted review of health and safety law be used to consolidate environmental legislation
  • Ensure overall costs of regulation are routinely assessed
  • Broaden the scope of the EU Red Tape Business Task Force
  • Defra using stakeholder forums to monitor comprehension and ease of accessing guidance

It added that similar reforms in Scotland and Wales should also be explored where necessary.

EEF chief executive Terry Scouler said: “The coalition 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.”

EEF senior climate and environment policy adviser Susanne Baker said: “In mid-August the Environment Agency confirmed that one project to build a common database for producer responsibility and international waste shipments may be scaled down because of budget constraints. This is not work that should be kicked into the long grass.

“A third of manufacturers want to see the Government focus more on driving through reform of EU environmental legislation. The UK already has the beginnings of a good track record here. We need to build on that and expand it.”

The Cutting Red Tape consultation will run until 15 September.

Commenting on the report, Environmental Industries Commission director Matthew Farrow said: “EEF members need to recognise that we cannot avoid a good deal of complex environmental regulation if we are serious about protecting the environment, as the EEF says we must be.

“We must also recognise that costs of regulation are often over-estimated, and good regulation can spur innovation as well as protect the environment. Achieving a resource-efficient circular economy can only be achieved either by massive rises in resource costs, which no one wants, or by effective regulation covering the collection, sorting and reprocessing of waste.

“Having said that, we would support the call for the streamlining of data collection, and the EEF is spot on in its strong criticism of the Government’s cutback on regulatory guidance. Business wants clear guidance which is easy to find on the relevant websites.”



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