Manufacturers call for reform of environmental legislation

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The government is currently seeking views on how to cut legislative burden associated with the energy, waste, mineral and farming sectors – but is it enough?

Manufacturers today have called on government to commit to wide-sweeping reform of environmental legislation to rationalise and consolidate the existing stock, but without compromising environmental protection.

Findings from an EEF survey show that this call for reform comes from across the board. Almost three quarters of manufacturers want to see legislative reform of environmental and climate change policies. Small companies are most likely to want to see green legislation trimmed back.

The survey findings are detailed in a new EEF paper Green tape: manufacturers’ views of progress on Defra’s regulatory reform agenda. It comes just weeks before government closes a consultation on how to cut red tape in the energy, waste, farming and mineral sectors.

The government has set out a bold ambition to reduce the cost of regulation to business by a further £10 billion. Championed by business secretary Sajid Javid, this latest attempt to cut red tape follows a string of similar initiatives all promising to save businesses money and boost growth. But our report shows that manufacturers have seen limited benefit in the efforts taken so far. Less than one in ten say that red tape culls to date have saved them time (7 per cent) or money (9 per cent).

Less than one in ten UK manufacturers say that red tape culls to date have saved them time (7 per cent) or money (9 per cent).

For example, 56 per cent of manufacturers say improvements to how they report data is important to them. During the last government, Defra outlined a range of options to reduce the burden of data reporting.  But with many of the projects delegated to the Environment Agency to action and fund, what are the chances of even these relatively simple reforms being pushed through?

At the moment, it doesn’t look good. In mid-August the EA 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 isn’t work that should be kicked into the long grass.

Another key area of focus is Europe. A third of manufacturers want to see the government focus more on driving through reform of European environmental legislation. The UK already has the beginnings of a good track record here. We need to build on that and expand it. In short, the time for tinkering is over.

It’s time to roll up the sleeves and focus on the areas that will deliver real benefit for UK manufacturers.




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