A report published today by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) criticises the UK Environment Agency and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for heavy-handed enforcement of environmental regulation.
The report says the £4bn annual business ‘cost of compliance’ (with regulations) compares well with other countries but the problems with design and enforcement mean it is higher than it should be.
The CBI criticises the Environment Agency for being insufficiently sensitive to the competitive environment in which business operates. It says enforcement is still inconsistent and not targeted on areas where there is most environmental risk.
The report says UK companies face a high number of inspections compared with countries such as the US, France and Italy. And it says there is a growing trend for the Agency to charge firms enforcement fees, a pattern not replicated in other EU states.
The report goes on to criticise DEFRA’s track record on implementing EU legislation in a business-friendly fashion, as well as its ability to influence EU policies.
In a series of recommendations, the CBI suggests that the UK Government should review all past and planned environmental policies to remove conflicting rules and cut out duplication, as well as assess the cumulative impact of regulation on key business sectors and consider ways to reduce the overall burden.
It also says that the Government should step up attempts to influence EU legislation through more effective and timely lobbying of Brussels policy makers and prepare more effectively when converting EU legislation into UK regulations so as to offer those in business certainty over what rules will apply.