The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a new report ‘Regulating to achieve environmental outcomes’, in which it scrutinises whether Defra is using regulation effectively in pursuit of its environmental agenda.

It found green improvements, including those relating to water, are being put at risk by shortcomings in Defra’s oversight of regulation. According to the report, work is still underway to set outcome reporting for each statutory green target, plus the Department had a backlog of 63 Post-Implementation Reviews as of March 2023, “limiting its insight into how well regulation is working or the burden on business”.

Moreover, the watchdog pointed out there are more than 30 bodies involved in regulating for environmental outcomes, some of which are struggling. For instance, in February the Environment Agency had vacancies of around 600 full-time equivalent posts, 5% of its planned staffing, and was behind in work areas such as permit applications.

The NAO recommended that by 2024, Defra should:

  • Set out a detailed operational plan for how it will achieve the goals of its Environmental Improvement Plan, including the role of regulation.
  • Have cleared the backlog on its Post-Implementation Reviews

No Comment

Comments are closed.