So the 'Red Tape Challenge', they just don't quit do they?!
And to think last May I walked out of a polling booth feeling pretty excited and hopeful that the Liberal Democrats were finally starting to punch their weight against the political monopoly. At the very least I thought they might provide a conscience to counter-balance Cameron but anyway, another week and another coalition attack on the environment and, let's face it, common sense.
The article linked above details the Government's decision to put over 21,000 regulations up for possible repeal, including all 278 of Britain's environmental laws. This includes mainstays of environmental policy such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Climate Change Act. The idea is to have the public look at which regulations (or 'red tape') hinder business in the UK.
That the government is taking such a strong view on business growth is not surprising and not entirely unwelcome; a stable economy is important after all (and benefits the environment). But to prioritise the needs of business over the environment strikes me as being not only foolhardy, but yet another example of the short-sighted approach to planning and legislation which blights the UK. Presenting it as a 'Red Tape Challenge' makes light of a serious situation, it sounds like bloody 'X-Factor' or something!
To see National Parks, marine reserves and other important areas lose their legal protection would have potentially catastrophic results for the wildlife they support. These sites are all part of an essential system that underpins everything we do, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. Interestingly, as the article points out, issues of national security are exempt from the review, yet climate change legislation isn't (how many reminders do they need?) Our wild landscapes and the diverse range of species that inhabit them should be a source of pride and enjoyment not a political chip to be gambled with.
Should we be thankful that we've been given the opportunity to have a say on these matters? It feels like a gutless, cunning move, but I suppose we should be. Perhaps there is even a chance that some good can come from it. Maybe there are needlessly complicated laws that can be done way with, increasing efficiency and making way for progressive new thinking. Who knows? The passionate public response to the recent forestry debacle can also provide encouragement. A similar groundswell of support is needed again*.
Read the Red Tape website for all the details. Read this inciteful piece on Damian Carrington's blog and get inspired.
*Encouraging news from DEFRA and the RSPB Campaign against cuts; apparently over 11,000 people have already emailed Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable! It's not over though. More here.