Pollution and waste piled together by regulators

Proposals to combine the UK's pollution prevention and control system with waste management licensing have been suggested to tidy up paperwork and cut red tape.

Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Environment Agency believe that the measures would still allow them to protect the environment and human health but could save the tax payer millions of pounds every year.

If successful the merger could provide pointers for simplifying other systems in the future.

Defra estimates that a single streamlined system, the Environmental Permitting Programme, will yield administrative savings of approximately £70 million over 10 years for industry and regulators, with potential for additional economic benefits.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley claimed that the proposals would not compromise environmental standards.

“Historically there has been a tendency for Defra’s environmental permitting systems to be developed largely independently of each other,” said Mr Morley.

“This has led to a regulatory system that is perceived as excessively complex and one that imposes unnecessary administrative burdens upon both industry and regulators.

“This consultation aims to make a start at tackling this situation by integrating and streamlining permitting systems while continuing to protect human health and the environment.”

Barbara Young, chief executive of the Environment Agency added:

“Real progress has been made towards identifying how to move to a common permitting system. I hope that business will see this as a major step towards simplifying environmental regulation and reducing bureaucracy.

“I look forward to a positive response to the consultation proposals.

“The Environment Agency is already implementing a modern regulation programme to save money for business through less administration and more streamlined regulation, whilst delivering good environmental outcomes.

“We are confident that the outcomes from this consultation will build on this success.

Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside Carwyn Jones said:

“Businesses need clear and efficient regulation that protects the environment without placing unnecessary burdens upon them.

“At the same time those businesses which operate in an environmentally sound way should receive recognition of that.

“The changes proposed in Environmental Permitting will help both environmentally conscious businesses and the environment.”

For more information see http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/epp

Deadline for comments on the consultation is 15 May 2006 and more information can be found on the Defra website by following the link.

by Sam Bond

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