In the last couple of months the UK Government has put its deregulation programme into high gear with what many regard as an attack on all regulations that may stand in the way of ‘doing business’.
In April 2011 the UK Government’s Cabinet Office launched its Red Tape Challenge. What appears on many levels to be a positive method of public consultation could, however, turn into a nightmare for nature and biodiversity conservation, as well as a method for Government to avoid its own declared aims on climate change.
The Red Tape Challenge website states that ‘the default presumption will be that burdensome regulations will go. If Ministers want to keep them, they have to make a very good case for them to stay.’ That is, unless there is a positive position taken by the public and Ministers, the regulation should be scrapped.
Now, the use of ‘democratising’ consultative techniques such as this can have benefits, but uncontrolled, they could also be a disaster.
One also has to question the premise that all such regulation is a burden and a problem that should be removed. As the Red Tape Challenge itself states ‘Good regulation is a good thing. It protects consumers, employees and the environment, it helps build a more fair society and can even save lives’, - and so shouldn’t regulation that protects our environment and the wildlife we live amongst be see in the light of, ‘Should stay - unless not doing what it says on the tin – and therefore should be made stronger’.
Much legislation protecting our environment has come from our commitments to EU law, and striking these down will only lead to problems. WDCS has been dealing with the inadequacies of many European governments’ interpretation of EU law for some time and any weakening of these will only be a retrograde step for cetaceans and the marine environment.
The 'Red Tape Challenge' does not appear to be just a ‘tidying up exercise’ by Government, but a root and branch assault on primary legislation. Members of the UK Coalition Government and HM’s opposition should be looking very carefully at what is underway here.
As concerned members of the public, we should definitely be aware of what is happening and be saying what we think.
You can find the relevant Red Tape Challenge sections here at ‘Environment’ and I would urge you to let the UK Government know that we don't wish to see our wildlife legislation weakened or scrapped, and, indeed, in many ways that they should be tightened up.
It looks like if we don't say something now, silence may well be interpreted as permission to burn our environmental and wildlife protection measures alongside everything else in the bonfire of the ‘red tape’. So please, don't be part of the silent majority
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