The Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Bill – which will streamline, and make the development and application of regulation more effective by introducing a number of measures – has been passed by the Scottish parliament. Its key provisions include:
Powers to make the delivery of regulation more consistent and help address delay or duplication.
Implementing a new duty for regulators to contribute to sustainable economic growth supported by a Code of Practice.
A primary authority scheme allowing businesses to receive tailored support from local authorities in relation to regulation.
A new integrated framework for environmental regulation, to help simplify procedures for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and businesses.
Improving the performance of planning authorities by establishing a link between planning fees and performance, and
Speeding up the process of resolving legal challenges so the number of delays to offshore marine energy projects is reduced.
Government ministers have privately been appalled the density of local government red-tape which each wind turbine or marine energy developer has to cope with and have clearly listened to the case made by business to put economic issues at least on a par with environmental issues.
Ministers, including Finance Minister John Swinney, MSP, have clearly heard the ‘boost business’ message after attending a series of ‘breakfast briefings’ organised by local chambers of commerce and business organisations.
Scottish Government Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, MSP, explained:
“This Regulatory Reform Bill takes forward our commitment to better environmental regulation and makes a key contribution to the Scottish Government’s purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth.
“Scotland’s environment is a vital national asset that is worth protecting; not only because of its beauty and contribution to our national identity, but also because it is vital to our economy’s success and the health and wellbeing of both our people and our wildlife.
“The way that SEPA works with business and other stakeholders can make a direct contribution to Scotland’s business environment. It’s clear that a healthy environment is integral to having a healthy economy. This Bill, which will bring efficiency gains to SEPA and to business, demonstrates the value in achieving this balance.”