Government plans to "rationalise" the UK's environmental regulations must not be a smokescreen for relaxing rules protecting our health, countryside or wildlife in a short-term pursuit of growth, the Environmental Audit Committee has cautioned
The Government has pledged to reduce over 10,000 pages of regulatory guidance, following its Red Tape Challenge, to help businesses comply with environmental laws.
MPs have pointed out that regulations have an important role in safeguarding our health and the environment.
Joan Walley MP, chair of the environmental audit committee, said: "The Treasury seems to see environmental regulations as nothing more than costly red-tape… If this process reduces bureaucracy and improves outcomes, as the Government claims, then we will support it. But it would be irresponsible to get rid of sensible regulations in a desperate dash for growth and we will be watching Ministers very carefully on this."
The MP's believe green investment should play a key role in the UK's economic recovery, but the Treasury still appears to see environmental measures as a cost or block to economic development. The Government's strategy to create a green economy - "Enabling the Transition to a Green Economy" - is too focused on voluntary action and fails to set a clear trajectory or any time-bound milestones for businesses to achieve.
The Committee is concerned that the Government has delayed introducing mandatory emissions reporting for big business and urges Ministers not to go back on their promise to do so.
"The Government promised a roadmap to a green economy, but two years in it seems to have stalled and we risk slipping back to business-as-usual," Mr Walley said.
Rising global demand for commodities and fossil fuels mean that prices will continue to rise in future, so it is incredibly short-sighted of the Treasury not to give businesses clear incentives to use resources in a smarter way.
Making businesses report their carbon emissions is one of the first steps we need to take on the road to a green economy, so it will be a key test of this Government's green credentials."
The report urges the Government to: