Businesses up and down the country are being invited to contribute ideas on how the Government can cut red tape and regulatory burdens without affecting its responsibilities to protect the environment
For the next three weeks the Red Tape Challenge (RTC) will be focusing on the 287 environmental regulations that apply to businesses, covering issues such as waste, emissions and wildlife protection.
The RTC asks whether existing regulations are providing the environmental protection that is intended and should therefore be retained, or if they are unnecessarily burdensome or redundant and should be scrapped.
People are also being asked for suggestions on how regulations could be simplified to make them easier to follow and more effective, or if an environmental aim could be better achieved through an alternative non-regulatory way.
The Government suggests that by simplifying regulations and removing burdens will also benefit the economy by saving businesses millions in unnecessary costs.
Environment Minister Jim Paice said: "This is not about reducing our standards. Regulation has an important role to play in protecting the environment and our natural resources, but some of the rules we ask businesses to follow are either too complicated, ineffective or just obsolete. The Red Tape Challenge is a chance to tell us how we can protect the environment in a more effective and simpler way that puts fewer burdens on businesses."
Business Minister Mark Prisk said: "Firms are best placed to understand the effect these regulations can have on the day to day running of a business and I hope they can give us an honest and frank appraisal of where improvements can be made, without compromising the protection that the regulations were designed to provide.
"The Red Tape Challenge has already been used to highlight a number of ways in which compliance problems are getting in the way of businesses, and we want to hear the different views on which environmental regulations can be simplified, improved or scrapped."
Defra is already making progress in simplifying and reducing the number of our regulations, but there is scope for more through the Red Tape Challenge.
The inititive has gained a lot of support from industry names, including Veolia, whose executive director, Robin Hunt said: "Whilst we all know that industry needs proper regulation; overcomplicated rules, Red Tape and unnecessary bureaucracy can have the opposite effect.
"The Red Tape Challenge is an opportunity to put this right - to reduce the amount of unnecessary, overcomplicated regulation that hampers business and make it easier for everyone to do what is needed to protect the environment properly. This is a unique chance for businesses to tell Government which regulations are working, which are not or if there are better and easier ways of achieving the same results."
However, not all in the industry welcome the latest phase of the Government's Red Tape Challenge. Friends of the Earth's Policy and Campaigns Director, Craig Bennett commented: "Environmental regulations can be good news for business - they give certainty about the Government's commitment to building a stable, clean and healthy future and encourage firms to invest in new technologies and industries.
"This initiative sends completely the wrong signals about the Government's commitment to being the greenest ever and undermines those businesses that want to operate to high green standards."