The Coalition Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ – a policy aimed at cutting what ministers see as unneccesary bureaucracy – is set to see changes made to legislation covering air quality.
Announcing in March 2012 the results of a consultation on the environment section of the Red Tape Challenge, environment secretary of state Caroline Spelman denied that the changes would be about “rolling back environmental safeguardsâ€? but instead claimed the policy was “about getting better rules, not weaker ones.â€?
The secretary of state said that “the results of the Red Tape Challenge will be good for the environment and good for business, because as well as upholding environmental protection we will remove unnecessary bureaucracy to allow businesses to free up resources to invest in growth.â€?
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said soundings were taken on the environment part of the Red Tape Challenge last year and overall of 255 regulations, “132 will be improved, mainly through simplification or consolidation; 70 will be kept as they are, to uphold important environmental protections; and 53 obsolete regulations will be removed. There will also be a new drive to introduce smarter implementation on the ground.â€?
Within the proposals there is an environment theme with a wide range of proposals, including several under the heading ‘Air Quality and Industrial Emissions.â€?
The department said that respondents had said that “air quality legislation should be simplified and that action to improve air quality should be taken by those with relevant powers to address the key issues. You also said that the Clean Air Act is out of date and certain smoke control regulations are no longer needed.â€?
In response to the consultation feedback, Defra said it agreed that air quality legislation needed “an overhaulâ€?. It continued: “Over the next year we will review the impact of existing legislation, including the Clean Air Act, and then consult on our findings. We will look to reduce burdens on business and local authorities by:
Additionally, Defra said it would work with the Department of Health and directors of public health to raise awareness about the health impacts of air pollution and change behaviours in areas such as transport and biomass burning to improve air quality. And, the Environment Agency is also to provide further information about industrial sites to the public via its website.
Working in partnership with other Member States, the Red Tape Challenge document says that the UK will use the European Commission review of air quality legislation, expected in 2013, to seek:
Red Tape Challenge Defra