Drawing the battle lines in the deregulation debate

The deregulation season has arrived once again. A new drive to "wage war on red tape" instigated by the Prime Minister will involve a review of 7,000 regulations with the aim of eliminating some and reducing the burdens imposed on business by others. The likely impact on environmental policy is still unclear - but the chemical industry has jumped at the chance to lobby for changes to integrated pollution control (IPC), in particular as it affects the fine and contract chemicals sectors.

The announcement of the red tape initiative on 2 February was greeted with hostility by environmentalists, who fear that it will be a smokescreen to dismantle the framework of environmental regulation - and particularly the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Their concerns have been dismissed by Environment Secretary Michael Howard. In a speech to the Institute of Directors (IoD), Mr Howard denied that "any drive to simplify and make our regul

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