Red Tape Challenge: Proposals to cut environmental legislation

Red Tape Challenge: Proposals to cut environmental legislation


Author: Sophie Wilkinson

DEFRA has announced the results of its review of environmental legislation, which is part of the Government's wider Red Tape Challenge that aims to reduce the administrative burden on businesses

There are proposals for many pieces of environmental legislation to be removed, and many more to be improved. There is also an intention to rationalise existing guidance.

Key proposals

  • making completion of waste transfer notes quicker and easier
  • simplifying paperwork and guidance relating to hazardous waste disposal
  • seeking an exemption from registration requirements for small businesses transporting their own waste
  • exempting more small businesses from battery producer legislation
  • addressing concerns relating to the high costs of complying with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation through compliance schemes
  • better alignment of the planning and permitting regimes, including piloting of Environmental Account Managers for complex cases requiring consent from a number of different agencies
  • scrapping site waste management plans
  • extending the environmental permitting regime to cover water abstractions, impoundment licensing, fish pass approvals and flood risk consents
  • clearer guidance for small businesses on fair cost sharing under REACH (the EU Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals)
  • reviewing and overhauling air quality legislation
  • reviewing greenhouse gas emissions regulations with the aim of reducing the regulatory burden of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme
  • simplifying noise and nuisance regulations to make the rules clearer
  • scrapping over 30 regulations relating to biodiversity and wildlife management which are completely out-of-date and improving almost 70 others
  • reviewing the overall framework of wildlife legislation, which may result in proposals for a new Wildlife Bill
  • the Environment Agency will apply a lighter touch enforcement regime to top performers and low risk sites
  • Natural England will improve licensing for low risk activities and simplify paperwork

Next steps

Many of the proposed amendments will be subject to public consultation. A report on amendments to guidance is expected in September 2012.


The proposals come alongside other recent environmental developments, including proposals to simplify the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme and changes to the contaminated land regime [link to article on revisions to the contaminated land regime].

The Government is on a drive to push forward legislative change in the environmental arena, and although businesses should benefit overall from the overhaul, pace needs to be kept with the changes as they arrive.


If you have any concerns relating to environmental compliance, please contact:

Sophie Wilkinson
03700 864012

Hayley Saunders
03700 863147