Government red tape response sluggish

8 February 2001

Government red tape response ‘sluggish’

By FWi staff

THE NFU has accused the government of being sluggish in its response to a task force urging it to ease the regulatory burden on farmers.

The government has promised to act on most of the 21 recommendations put forward by Lord Haskins environmental regulation task report in November.

In its response, it acknowledges that regulation should impose the minimum burden on farmers, while achieving the necessary safeguards.

It says a number of the recommendations have already been “driven forwards”, while others will be progressed as fast as possible.

“The Government is determined to improve the regulatory environment in which the agriculture industry operates,” it says in its response to the report, published on Wednesday.

But NFU environment adviser Andrew Clark said the union is disappointed with the response, which showed a lack of urgency.

“We are disappointed that the government does not seem to be fully aware of a raft of forthcoming regulation, even though it agrees that regulation should place the minimum burden on farmers,” he said.

He said the next decade will see a number of new regulations introduced that will impose a significant cost on farmers and need urgent attention.

He acknowledged, however, that there was encouragement in the form of the governments broad response to the report, even it wasnt there in the detail.

Speaking at the NFU conference in London on Wednesday (07 February), farm minister Nick Brown outlined the key areas where the government has pledged to change.

“Were reaffirming our commitment against gold-plating of EU directives,” he said.

“Well be upping our game in terms of lobbying in Brussels early in the development of all new regulations that could affect British farmers.”

“Were going to do more to use planning policy to promote sustainable farm business diversification and were committed to further improving the co-ordination of farm inspections to minimise the burdens of inspections on farmers.

But the response gave nothing away about plans to introduce a pesticides tax in response to Lord Haskins recommendation that idea should be shelved. It says it has noted the recommendation and that discussion with the industry is ongoing.

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