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Reforming Environmental Legislation Steven Gleave Defra, Better Regulation Team

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Presentation on theme: "Reforming Environmental Legislation Steven Gleave Defra, Better Regulation Team"— Presentation transcript:

1 Reforming Environmental Legislation Steven Gleave Defra, Better Regulation Team

2 Context to reform Aims are to remove unnecessary regulatory burdens, to make it easier for businesses to comply with environmental obligations and ensure that environmental legislation is fit for future environmental challenges. Simplification of the landscape of environmental regulation - legislation, guidance, information requirements, enforcement and compliance activity. England and Defra focus, but need to collaborate with other Government Departments, Devolved Administrations and EU. Ambition for significant progress over next two years - reforms to guidance, data reporting, inspections and “vertical” reform of legislation. Thinking in hand on longer term “horizontal” reform of legislation.

3 Reform of environmental guidance Current situation: >6,000 environmental guidance documents, >100,000 pages spread over multiple websites. No common format or style. Duplication. Overlap. Confusion. Reform aims to provide:  User-centred approach;  simple, clear and quick access to information in one place (www.gov.uk);  “Safe Harbour” for those who follow the new guidance. Government to work through others to provide best practice advice. Expected time savings for business of >80%. Equivalent to c. £1bn saved over 10 years. Savings for government too.

4 For example, batteries waste… Before 31 government guidance documents/329 pages on batteries. Written around law and government processes. Significant overlap. Time-consuming, difficult to work out what it means and unclear. After 6 blocks of content designed around user needs: -Consumers disposing of batteries -Businesses disposing of batteries -Producers placing batteries on market -Producers providing take back facilities -Waste companies collecting/treating batteries -Waste companies exporting batteries Expect 80-90% less volume in total. Simple, quick, clear and relevant guidance.

5 Consulting users of guidance Interactive public consultation at: guidanceanddata.defra.gov.uk As at 29 November:  7301 visits  605 responses  446 Twitter

6 Reform of environmental information obligations 243 individual obligations on business to report environmental information to government. Cost to business of c. £160m per year. Overlapping information is reported to multiple locations and in multiple formats with little co-ordination. A number of the government databases cannot “speak” to each other. By March 2014 the aim is to:  Carry out a “zero-based” review to collect only the information that is essential and used;  Streamline how that information is collected, starting with a pilot on waste.

7 Proposals for simplifying environmental information obligations  Stop collecting information.  Reduce the number of transactions.  Businesses only notify important changes.  Exclude reporting of low risk activities, especially those which do not require any active decision by the regulator.  Offer standard rules licences for more activities.  Allow reporting via accredited third parties.  Challenge ad hoc requests for information.  ICT solutions for simplifying transmission of information.

8 Long term ambition - Report once. Use many times Current situationFuture scenario

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10 Enforcement and Compliance Exploring a more streamlined and strategic approach to inspections, investigations and handling of enforcement intelligence across the Defra network. Key elements include:  A zero based review of Defra family inspections, leading to recommendations on what visits are required and an optimal “one business” model for delivery;  A more formal approach to investigations and sharing enforcement intelligence across the Defra network, based on the police National Intelligence Model. Developing a GIS-based data sharing and inspection planning tool –”Find It.” Focus on farm-based inspections currently but potential to expand wider. It will support improved risk-based targeting of inspections, resulting in:  More efficient use of regulator resources;  Fewer and more informed visits for the regulated.

11 Reform of environmental legislation UK and EU environmental legislation has evolved in a piecemeal way that appears fragmented, overlapping, inconsistent and complex to business and can act as a barrier to both economic growth and effective compliance with environmental obligations. “We’d be desperate if we had to read legislation up-front.” (A business) > 25,000 pages of environmental laws in England. EU legislation is a significant component, c. 600 environmental measures which account for c. 80% of regulatory costs to UK businesses.

12 “Vertical” reform of environmental legislation Red Tape Challenge reviews. 626 environmental regulations reviewed area by area, e.g. water quality, biodiversity, land, etc. Plans to improve 45%, scrap 22% and keep unchanged 33%. Currently forecasting savings to business of >£1bn over 5 years. Guidance and data reforms may double that figure. Red Tape Challenge also identified reforms of EU legislation. Prime Minister’s business-led Task Force on EU Regulation has made other suggestions.

13 “Horizontal” reform of environmental legislation “Vertical” reform has its limitations. Lots of talk about cross-cutting reform of environmental legislation but rarely put into practice. But increasing interest in developing a simpler, more coherent and more integrated framework, e.g. the Netherlands. Thinking in hand about reform of environmental legislation framework. Need to find a pragmatic and cost effective way of implementing reform, possibly through a blueprint/roadmap.

14 How you can help tonight Current complexity of environmental legislation can cause unnecessary delay and cost to important infrastructure development and economic growth. Is it time for reform of UK environmental legislation to ensure that well-conceived environmentally-sound developments can be quickly agreed? We’d like to understand legal practitioner views: Is this a real or perceived problem? What are the issues/barriers that most often cause cost, delay and uncertainty? Are these barriers necessary to achieve environmentally sound decisions? To what extent will measures already in place solve these problems? What reforms would you like to see by 2025? Are there countries which get it right?


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