EA chief executive Sir James Bevan argues strong environmental regulation crucial to post-pandemic economic recovery
A stronger focus on “better regulation, not deregulation” after Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic are critical to helping businesses to thrive while protecting England’s air, land and water from threats such as climate change, according to Environment Agency (EA) chief executive Sir James Bevan.
Bevan said the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus crisis alongside the UK’s recent exit from the EU opened up both the need and opportunity for a rapid recovery strategy facilitated by effective regulation, which he argued could both help businesses succeed while also stopping environmental destruction.
But the former Foreign Office CEO, who took over at the helm of the EA in 2015, warned against “false choices” in any moves to reshape the UK’s approach to regulation post-Brexit, as he called for adequate resources and funding for the EA to carry out its work.
“Better regulation isn’t code for deregulation,” Bevan said. “The test for any changes in legislation must be that they will deliver better environmental outcomes as well as being good for the economy.”
He added that the EA needed “the right resources, funded by operators and by government, to deliver the high ambitions we all have in enhancing our environment”. “Ultimately, we will get the environment we are prepared to pay for,” he said.
Bevan’s comments are likely to find favour among green business groups and NGOs which have long warned against opening the door to a post-Brexit regulatory bonfire that could lead to