Is environmental law an unwanted burden?

Blog Post by Hannah Williams 05 September 2014

Study shows that 65% of businesses feel environmental regulation is a burden.

Nowadays it’s the norm for businesses to stay compliant with environmental law - ever since it was introduced around the 1960s when it was recognised that the natural environment is fragile and in need of special legal protection. Unfortunately this compliancy is regularly met with reluctance and often with the amount of enthusiasm I have at the gym at 6am on a Monday morning (which is very little by the way!)

Survey results

In fact, recent research has found businesses believe environmental law to be the most burdensome out of all of the laws relevant to them.  The Business Perceptions Survey 2014 was commissioned jointly by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and DEFRA. The report shows company staff spent an average of 6.7 days per month on environmental regulation and 65% of businesses described this is a burden. This is compared with an average of 55% for all laws.

The results mirror those of a survey by the European Commission last year, which found chemicals and waste rules were among the most burdensome laws for small companies. Often outside expert advice is needed, in order to receive specialist knowledge on environmental compliance which, when coupled with confusion about the differences between environmental regulation in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, leads to the ‘burdensome’ label this type of law has received.

But there are benefits...

On a more positive note, environmental law has brought about much needed protection and strong regulation has resulted in many areas across the UK to arguably be in a better state than they were 25 years ago. It can also be said that there's now an improved balance between over-burdening businesses and protecting people and the environment.

Over recent years, DEFRA has put significant effort into reducing the burden of compliance on business through its smarter environmental regulation review. The aim of this review is to make compliance with legal obligations more transparent and easier.

Compliancy doesn’t need to be a stumbling block to your business. In order to be like a third of the survey’s respondents that said they put a high amount of effort into complying with environmental law, all you need is a little quality research and time.

You'll soon be well on your way to environmental compliance, happy in the knowledge you've done your bit to help minimise your company’s impact on the environment. Perhaps in the future your enthusiasm for environmental law will be more like mine for a cocktail whilst led on a sunbed on a white sandy beach somewhere far away!


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