The report by the heads of Europe’s various environmental protection agencies, including the UK’s EA, says that good environmental management and regulation not only promotes sustainability but also encourages economic competitiveness and increased profits.

Barbara Young, the Environment Agency’s chief executive, Launched the report in London on Tuesday at the agency’s Deeper, Wider, Greener conference.

“This new analysis shows that businesses and industries with environmentally-friendly practices are prospering and making savings,” she told delegates.

“It’s solid evidence that effective environmental regulation can drive innovation, it can foster new markets and reduce business risks.

“In the past we have often been forced to defend claims that rigorous regulation inhibits economic development and reduces competitiveness – this simply is not true – countries with good, well-designed environmental regulation are the best countries to do business in.

“I hope the business community will take part in our conference and join the debate that is shaping environmental protection at a local, national and international level and assess the commercial opportunities of upcoming policy initiatives.”

The report, Contribution of Good Environmental Regulation to Competitiveness claims that in the UK alone:

  • Reducing waste could save manufacturers almost £3 billion a year by cutting bills for materials and landfill costs.
  • Industry could save a further £1.8 billion through energy efficiency, adding to progress already made.
  • The agriculture sector could save some £1 billion through improved environmental management practices such as more targeted use of pesticides.

    It also claims that regulation ensures employment, with almost 2.7 million British jobs linked to the environment.

    “While we know that jobs can be created and major cost reductions made through green initiatives, this research confirms there are also major benefits to competitiveness through innovation, new products, new markets, and reducing business risks,” said Baroness Young.

    As well as ensuring a competitive edge, says the report, robust regulation also protects the health and safety of workers and consumers, reduces environmental degradation and conserves natural resources.

    By Sam Bond

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