Defra reveals timetable for cutting air quality red tape

Department publishes plan which sets out when Red Tape Challenge proposals will be implemented, writes Caelia Quinault

A detailed plan setting out when the government intends to streamline a number of air quality regulations has been published by Defra.

The ‘Red Tape Challenge- Environment Theme Implementation Plan’ sets out the timetable for delivering proposals set out in March 2012 to streamline a wide range of environmental regulations and reduce the burden they place on businesses (see story).

Defra is seeking to streamline air quality regulations

With regards to air quality, the department has pledged to review the impact of the Clean Air Act, to reduce the burden on businesses and local authorities while still achieving European targets, with a consultation in May 2013 and regulatory changes in late 2013 or early 2014.

In addition, the Department is planning to review existing local air quality legislation to focus requirements on those that are essential to ensure compliance with EU targets by October 2014.

Other measures include:

  • Simplify the arrangements under the Smoke Control Areas Regulations so the required performance of fuels is specified rather than a list of fuels in April 2013 (consultation due September 2012);
  • Simplify the arrangements under the Smoke Control Areas (Exempted Fireplaces) (England) Order 2011 so that the required performance of fireplaces is specified rather a list of individual fireplaces in April 2013 (consultation September 2012);
  • Streamline applications and environmental permits and reduce business charges for up to 20 industry sectors in April 2013;
  • Amend the Environment Act 1995 to remove the requirement for Further Assessments in October 2013;
  • Review the impact of the Clean Air Act and associated regulations in October 2013;
  • Remove the Pollution Prevention and Control (Unauthorised Part B Processes) (England and Wales) Regulations 2004 as they have been superseded by Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 (October 2013);
  • Work in partnership with other Member States (MSs), use the EC review of air quality legislation to seek: amendments to the Air Quality Directive which reduce the infraction risk faced by most member states, especially in relation to nitrogen dioxide provisions; simplifications to the legal framework (e.g. through reducing requirements for MSs) to reduce costs and admin burdens to local authorities and businesses whilst maintaining or improving health and ecosystem protection; requirements that are strictly proportional to evidence on costs and benefits (EU consultation expected from late 2013);
  • Review existing local air quality legislation to focus requirements on those that are essential to ensure compliance with EU targets. Review the role and responsibilities of local authorities to help ensure that action is taken by those with relevant powers to address the key issues (e.g. transport emissions). Review the role of transport measures in meeting air quality targets, including the consistency in approach across local areas, working with other relevant departments, especially DfT and DH. Consolidate Air Quality Standards Regulations to simplify the regulatory landscape (October 2014);
  • Merge the Air Quality (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 with the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010. This will allow us, for instance, to realign local authority duties towards limit values rather than objectives, bring attainment dates for certain pollutants into alignment, and achieve a more transparent approach to implementing EU legislation (consultation May 2013, regulations by October 2014);
  • 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 by April 2015.

The plan states: “This plan, which establishes a clear set of deadlines for implementation with intermediate milestones, will form the basis for future monitoring of the delivery of this suite of proposals.

“Defra wants to be transparent with stakeholders and the wider public. We have therefore tested the plan with our Sounding Board of stakeholders and are publishing the key implementation dates on the Defra website.”

Related Links

Red Tape Challenge Implementation Plan


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