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Environmental laws ‘at risk’

Corin Williams31/05/2012 - 13:00

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MPs warn against environmental regulations cut
MPs warn against environmental regulations cut

A panel of MPs has hit out against the government’s attempts to cut environmental regulations and warned the Red Tape Challenge (RTC) must not be a ‘smokescreen for relaxing rules protecting our health’.

A report published by the Environment Audit Committee said the government’s eagerness to allow businesses operate with fewer restrictions put necessary regulations that protect health and the environment at risk.

It said the Treasury was guilty of considering environmental measures a ‘cost or block to economic development’, and also criticised the government’s green economy strategy for being ‘too focused on voluntary action’.

MPs said regulations have an ‘important role in safeguarding our health and the environment’.

Committee chair Joan Walley, who is also a CIEH vice president, said: ‘The Treasury seems to see environmental regulations as nothing more than costly red tape, but what we are talking about here are vital laws to give us clean air, safe food and a thriving countryside.

‘If this process reduces bureaucracy and improves outcomes, as the government claims, then we will support it. But it would be irresponsible to get rid of sensible regulations in a desperate dash for growth and we will be watching ministers very carefully on this.’

The report called on the government to set up targets for improving the environment and to revise its definition of a ‘green economy’ to include wellbeing and sustainable development.

Ms Walley added: ‘Out of the ashes of the financial crisis we need to rebuild an economy that enhances human wellbeing, protect the natural world and delivers food and energy security for the future.’

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