5 August 2020 by James Langley

EA chief executive praises ‘good regulation’

Good regulation is essential for tackling the climate emergency and rebooting the economy in the wake of coronavirus, the chief executive of the Environment Agency argued yesterday (4 August).

In a speech to the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sir James Bevan said he was against regulation for regulation’s sake and called for a “business-friendly and proportionate” approach to drive innovation and deliver a green recovery.

James Bevan has been chief executive of the Environment Agency since 2015

Sir James said: “Let me be clear that I am against red tape, if by red tape we mean regulation for its own sake, or bad regulation.

“But regulation – good regulation – is essential. Good regulation protects people and the environment from harm. Good regulation creates a level playing field for business, allowing well-run companies to thrive and stopping those who don’t want to play by the rules from undercutting them. Good regulation drives growth and innovation.

“To secure a green recovery we need to move with levels of energy and speed that we have not needed for generations – we need to build better, faster and greener, and we must ensure that red tape doesn’t stop green growth. Which is why we need to get our regulation right.”


Sir James heralded the opportunities to regulate better, change laws, and achieve higher environmental standards he believes are afforded with Britain outside the European Union.

“I am not for slash and burn”

Sir James Bevan

He said: “If changing the law will allow us to regulate better and achieve higher environmental standards, we should always be open to that.”

Last week the UK set out its approach to transposing the EU circular economy package (CEP) into domestic law (see letsrecycle.com story).

“I am not for slash and burn, but I am all for doing innovative thinking, including about which bits of inherited EU law we should keep and which we should change,” Sir James added.


Sir James also set out how the Environment Agency’s regulatory work would pave the way for the UK’s target of net zero emissions by 2050. It will do so by regulating greenhouse gas emissions in power stations and landfill sites and permitting renewable and low-carbon technology to drive clean growth, he said.

Sir James said: “The biggest of all threats we face – to our environment, our economy, our future – is the climate emergency.

“And the climate emergency is a great example of where regulation works and can stimulate not choke business.”

“Good regulation doesn’t just protect the environment but enhances it.”

Sir James was announced as the chief executive of the government’s environmental regulatory body the Environment Agency in September 2015 (see letsrecycle.com story).


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