Will the government push for economic growth at the expense of environmental protection?

I have been quoted in Damian Carrington‘s most recent Environment Blog for The Guardian, Environmental protection rules may be headed for government shredder. The blog covers Oliver Letwin’s proposition to replace all of the current environmental guidance including that on pollution, waste, and wildlife, with one 50-page document. To see the full blog post click here.

Oliver Letwin was said to have made this proposition in a private meeting on 12 January of this year. As Carrington investigated it further, he was ‘met with a brick wall’. This move by Letwin links in with the government’s Red Tape Challenge (RTC), but the public comments on the environment section of the RTC website shows that there is not a public demand for change, which begs the question of whether this policy is simply all down to economic growth.

On this point, Carrington has quoted me as saying that “This report [of the Letwin meeting] is consistent with a complete hostility to the environment, based on the misapprehension that the environment regulations get in the way of growth – which they don’t and there is no evidence that they do – and the mistaken belief that the British people want to choose between the two, which they don’t.”

Further, “The financial crash was due to deregulation, the government now has a very tricky problem on breast implants due to regulatory failure and the soaring whiplash injury claims are due to the deregulation of lawyers. Who are the government doing this for?”

About tomburke

Tom Burke is the Chairman of E3G, Third Generation Environmentalism, and an Environmental Policy Adviser (part time) to Rio Tinto plc. He is a Visiting Professor at both Imperial and University Colleges, London. He is a member of the External Review Committee of Shell and the Sustainable Sourcing Advisory Board of Unilever and a Trustee of the Black-E Community Arts Project, Liverpool.
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