Environmental Better Regulations Bill - EFM As amended at Consideration Stage

ENVIRONMENTAL BETTER REGULATION BILL
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EXPLANATORY AND FINANCIAL MEMORANDUM


INTRODUCTION

1. This Explanatory and Financial memorandum has been prepared by the Department of
the Environment in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it.
It does not form part of the Bill and has not been endorsed by the Assembly.

2. The Memorandum needs to be read in conjunction with the Bill. It is not, and is not
meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a
clause or schedule does not seem to require an explanation or comment, none is given.


BACKGROUND AND POLICY OBJECTIVES

3. The Bill is a key element of the Department’s Regulatory Transformation Programme.
The overall aim of the Programme is to provide a more streamlined and effective
regulatory system for businesses and regulators.

4. Over many years environmental legislation has become unnecessarily complex and
fragmented which in turn has resulted in increased burdens on businesses regulated
under the legislation.

5. The policy underlying Parts 1 and 2 of this Bill has resulted from extensive stakeholder
engagement between businesses, regulators and environmental groups. During such
consultation many businesses criticised environmental regulations, and regulation itself,
for being complex, inflexible, incoherent and time-consuming to understand. The lack
of integration between environmental permits and the resource intensive nature of
complying with multiple, un-coordinated inspections were identified as regulatory
burdens, particularly by small/medium sized business cited as hindering them from
doing business.

6. The policy intention aligns with the Executive’s Programme for Government priority of
growing a sustainable economy and investing in the future by having a simpler,
harmonised and easier to understand regulatory framework. It also supports the
Executive initiative “Building a Prosperous and United Community” which refers to the
need to reduce regulatory burdens and red tape for businesses.

7. Parts 3, 4 and 5 of the Bill contain miscellaneous amendments unrelated to Parts 1 and
2:

  • to amend the Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 to streamline theprocedure for authorising fuels and for exempting fireplaces under the provisions of that Order;
  • to amend the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002 to remove the requirement on district councils to make a further assessment of air quality under Article 13 of that Order;
  • to amend the Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 to transfer responsibility for the regulation of drinking water quality for public supplies from the Department for Regional Development to the Department of the Environment.


CONSULTATION

Parts 1 and 2 – General Environmental Regulation & Powers of Entry and Associated
Powers

8. The policy underlying Parts 1 and 2 has been developed as a result of extensive
consultation, initially by research carried out and published in the Department’s 2011
White Paper on Better Regulation. The Department consulted widely on its “Proposals
for an Environmental Better Regulation Bill” in May 2013. The proposals contained in
the consultation focused specifically on providing enabling powers for an integrated
environmental permitting regime and the rationalising of the powers of entry for
environmental inspection. The consultation also noted that subsequent phases to deliver
the policy will include supporting subordinate legislation and guidance.

9. In excess of 140 individuals and organisations were consulted on the proposals,
including political parties, the Environment Committee, MLAs, district councils and
community and voluntary organisations. In addition advertisements publicising the
consultation exercise were placed in the local press and full details of the consultation
exercise were also available on the Department of the Environment’s website.

Part 3 – Amendments to the Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981

10. The Department has not consulted on the change as in practice the process will remain
essentially the same, i.e. the testing of fuels and fireplaces will still be undertaken
jointly across the UK and district councils will still have enforcement powers under the
1981 Order.

Part 4 – Amendments to the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002

11. As part of the ongoing review of local air quality management within the UK, the
Department has consulted with district councils about the need to undertake Further
Assessments of air quality to supplement information it already has. District councils
were supportive of the policy to remove the requirement.

Part 5 – Amendments to the Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order
2006

12. The Department has not consulted on the proposed changes as this is an administrative
change and the processes will remain the same, i.e. regulation of the private water
supplies and regulation of public water quality supplies will be continued to be
undertaken but full responsibility for this regulation will be fully transferred to DOE
from DRD.

OPTIONS CONSIDERED

Parts 1 and 2 – General Environmental Regulation & Powers of Entry and Associated
Powers

13. The 2013 consultation proposals generally received widespread support from the
majority of respondents and a number of face to face discussions also took place with
some of the respondents. The Department assessed the implications of not introducing
the Bill against the implications of introducing one and determined that not to introduce
a Bill would risk the continuation of unnecessary regulatory burdens on businesses and
a lack of focus on the high risk operators most likely to cause environmental damage.

14. Details of specific comments raised and the Department's response to those comments
are set out in a consultation summary document on the Department’s website.

http://www.doeni.gov.uk/index/protect_the_environment/local_environmental_issues/b
etter_regulation.htm

Part 3 – Amendments to the Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981

15. Under the proposed option a simplified and less burdensome process for approving
fuels and fireplaces would be introduced rather than having to continue to make
regulations if a “do nothing option” was followed. Under the proposed option newly
tested fuels and fireplaces would be approved administratively which would result in
approvals being granted soon after the fuel or fireplace has been tested and found to be
suitable for use in a smoke control area. It would also mean that manufacturers and
suppliers would no longer face delays waiting for approval to market and sell their
product after it has been tested. Defra and the Scottish Government have made similar
amendments to their legislation.

Part 4 – Amendments to the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002

16. Under a “do nothing option” the requirement to undertake Further Assessments of air
quality, to supplement existing information on areas designated as an Air Quality
Management Area would still be required to be reported on. This is seen as an
unnecessary burden and an impediment to speedy preparation and implementation of
local air quality action plans by district councils. Defra and the Scottish Government
are also taking forward this amendment following discussions with local authorities in
England, Scotland and Wales. The proposed option would remove the need for district
councils to undertake such Further Assessments and would bring Northern Ireland into
line with best practice elsewhere.

Part 5 – Amendments to the Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order
2006

17. Under the proposed option responsibility for the regulation of water quality in public
drinking water supplies will transfer from DRD to DOE negating the need, under a “do
nothing option”, to report to two Ministers. Under the proposed option the Drinking
Water Inspectorate (DWI) will therefore carry out the regulatory functions for public
drinking water quality supplies on behalf of DOE and will report only to the DOE
Minister. This will allow a simplified and less burdensome process for the DWI.

OVERVIEW

18. The Bill has 28 clauses, 3 Schedules and is divided into 6 distinct Parts.

COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES

A commentary on the clauses is provided below. Comments are not given where the wording
is self-explanatory.

PART 1 – GENERAL ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION

Clause 1: General purpose: protecting and improving the environment

Clause 1 sets out the general purpose of Part 1, i.e. to make, by regulations, provision for
protecting and improving the environment and specifies that the purpose extends to provision
regulating environmental activities and provision implementing EU obligations or other
international obligations.

Clause 2: Regulations relating to protecting and improving the environment

Clause 2 (subsection (1) enables the Department to make provision by regulations for any of
the matters specified in Schedule 1.

Subsection (2) sets out that the provision that may be made is provision for and in connection
with the matters mentioned in section 1.

Subsection (3) allows for regulations to provide that specified provisions of the regulations
have effect in relation only to specified regulated activities, the carrying on of regulated
activities in specified circumstances or the carrying on of regulated activities by specified
persons or classes of person.

Subsection (4) allows for regulations to modify any statutory provision or document, make
different provision for different cases, provide for the delegation of functions and impose
requirements.

Subsection (5) allows regulations to contain consequential, incidental, supplementary,
transitional or saving provisions as necessary.

Clause 3: Regulations relating to protecting and improving the environment:
consultation

Clause 3(1) requires the Department, before making regulations relating to protecting and
improving the environment, to consult certain regulators and such other persons as it
considers appropriate. Subsection (2) has the effect that such consultation can be undertaken
prior to the coming into operation of this section

Clause 4: Regulations relating to protecting and improving the environment: objective

Clause 4 elaborates on the purpose of the Bill. Whilst the key purpose of Part 1 of the Bill is
to protect and improve the environment, in making regulations for that purpose the
Department is to have the objective of reducing the regulatory and administrative burden on
those carrying on regulated activities.

Clause 5: General environmental rules

Clause 5 enables the Department, by regulations under section 2 pursuant to paragraph
4(3)(c) of Schedule 1, to provide for general environmental rules to impose conditions or
requirements, prescribe standards or objectives to be complied with or achieved, and require
standards or objectives specified in or under other statutory provisions to be complied with or
achieved.

Subsections (2), (3) and (4) require the Department to publish a draft of the proposed rules
and to publicise the opportunity to make representations and allow copies of the proposed
rules to be available for public inspection. The Department will have regard to any
representations made to it within the determined period.

Clause 6: Interpretation

Clause 6 defines terms used in Part 1 of the Bill. It includes definitions of:

  • “environmental activities” (to cover activities that are capable of causing, or liable to                                                     cause, environmental harm); and
  • “environmental harm” (to cover a wide range of matters, including-                                                                                  o harm to the quality of the environment such as might be caused by, for                                                                    example, polluting activities, and                                                                                                                                        o offence to the senses of human beings such as might be caused by, for                                                                          example, excessive noise or unpleasant odours or stenches).

In this context, “activities” is also defined, so that it covers a broad range of matters including
the production, treatment, keeping, transportation, depositing or disposal of substances.

The effect is that the Bill enables the regulation under section 2 of a wide range of matters
relating to environmental activities and the prevention of environmental harm.

The definitions of “environmental harm” and “protecting and improving the environment”
make reference to “ecosystems”. An ecosystem is a very wide ranging term and can be
defined as including all of the living things (plants, animals and organisms) in a given area,
interacting with each other, and also with their non-living environments (weather, earth, sun,
soil, climate, atmosphere).

PART 2 – POWERS OF ENTRY AND ASSOCIATED POWERS

Clause 7: Repealing, etc. unnecessary or inappropriate powers of entry, etc.

Clause 7 gives the Department the power, exercisable by regulations, to remove from existing
legislation powers to enter land or other premises which it considers to be either unnecessary
or inappropriate. Such regulations may also remove associated powers, for example, a power
to search or inspect the premises entered into or to seize material found in such premises; the
term is defined in clause 14(1). The power to remove an associated power may be exercised
independently from the power to remove a power of entry (and vice versa). Clause 7 also
gives the Department the power to remove from existing legislation offences (as described in
clause 9(1)(b)) connected with the powers of entry and associated powers.

Clause 8: Adding safeguards to powers of entry

Clause 8(1) gives the Department power, exercisable by regulations, to add safeguards to
powers of entry or associated powers. Subsection (2) sets out a non-exhaustive list of the
safeguards which may be included in such regulations. Any such safeguards would be in
addition to those already contained in the legislation conferring the power of entry or
associated power.

Clause 9: Rewriting powers of entry

Clause 9 gives the Department the power, exercisable by regulations, to rewrite powers of
entry or associated powers. Such regulations might consolidate a number of powers of entry
exercisable for similar purposes. The power extends to rewording related legislation and
connected offences. Whilst regulations under this clause may alter a power of entry or
associated power and any safeguard linked to such powers, the combined effect of the
changes must be to add to the level of protection afforded by the safeguards when taken
together (subsection (5)).

Subsection (3) provides for the treatment of offences. In general terms, an offence that is tried
summarily (usually in the Magistrates’ Court) falls into one of two categories: (a) an offence
that can only be tried summarily; and (b) one that can be tried either summarily or on
indictment.

Subsection 3(b)(ii) makes the distinction between the different formulae for expressing the
maximum fines applicable to those offences which are triable only summarily (a fine not
exceeding level 5 on the standard scale) and those which are triable either summarily or on
indictment (a fine which must not exceed the statutory maximum).

While level 5 on the standard scale and the statutory maximum are both currently £5,000,
they are two distinct legal concepts and the monetary values may diverge in the future.

Clause 10: Review of powers of entry

Clause 10 places a duty on the Department to conduct a review of powers of entry and
associated powers within 2 years of the coming into operation of this section. In conducting a
review the Department must consider whether, in relation to each power of entry (and
associated power), to exercise the regulation making powers in sections 7, 8(1) or 9(1). A
report of the review is to be prepared and laid before the Assembly.

Clause 11: Consultation requirements

Clause 11 requires the Department, before making regulations relating to a power of entry or
associated power or an offence connected with the exercise of any such power, to consult
with appropriate persons representing the views of stakeholders pertinent to such powers.

Clause 12: Regulations

Clause 12 provides that regulations made by the Department under section 7, 8(1) or 9(1)
may modify any statutory provision or include such consequential, incidental, supplementary,
transitional or saving provisions as the Department considers appropriate.

Clause 13: Code of practice in relation to powers of entry

Clause 13 places a duty on the Department to prepare a code of practice in relation to the
exercise of powers of entry and associated powers under statutory provisions under which the
Department has a function related to environmental activities or protecting and improving the
environment. The Department is required to publish a draft of the code, invite representations
on it and consider them.

After making any necessary changes to the draft code as outlined in subsection (2)(c) the
Department must then lay the code in draft before the Assembly (subsection (3)). If the
Assembly does not resolve as mentioned in subsection (4), the Department must publish the
finalised code in any manner that it considers appropriate and review it from time to time.

Subsection (9) provides that a person must have regard to the code of practice when
exercising the powers of entry or associated powers to which the code relates. Failure to
adhere to any aspects of the code would not, of itself, render a person liable to civil or
criminal proceedings (subsection (10)) however, the code is admissible in such proceedings
(subsection (11)) and a court or tribunal may take into account any failure of a person to
comply with the duty to have regard to the code (subsection (12)).

Clause 14: Interpretation

Clause 14 defines terms used in Part 2. The clause includes a definition of “premises”. The
definition makes it clear that “premises” includes any land, vehicle, vessel, aircraft or
hovercraft, and any tent or moveable property. However, it is an inclusive definition so, in
addition to the things listed, the term bears its ordinary, natural and literal meaning and
would, therefore, include a wide range of houses or buildings including residential premises.

PART 3 - AMENDMENTS TO THE CLEAN AIR (NORTHERN IRELAND) ORDER
1981

Clause 15: Authorised fuel

Clause 15 simplifies the procedure for declaring a fuel to be an authorised fuel for the
purposes of the Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (“the 1981 Order”). It replaces the
definition of “authorised fuel” in Article 2(2) of the 1981 Order with a new definition. The
new definition provides that authorised fuel means a fuel that is included on a list of
authorised fuels published by the Department. Previously the Department authorised fuels by
regulations.

Clause 16: Exempt fireplaces

Clause 16 simplifies the procedure for exempting classes of fireplace from the provisions of
Article 17 of the 1981 Order. Under the amended procedure the Department must publish a
list of those classes of fireplace that are exempt. Previously the Department exempted classes
of fireplace by regulations.

PART 4 – AMENDMENTS TO THE ENVIRONMENT (NORTHERN IRELAND)
ORDER 2002

Clause 17: Removal of assessments under Article 13

Clause 17 removes the requirement in Article 13 of the Environment (Northern Ireland)
Order 2002 (“the 2002 Order”) for district councils to undertake a Further Assessment of air
quality in Air Quality Management Areas.

Clause 18: Amendments consequential on the amendments to Article 13

Clause 18 makes consequential amendments to the 2002 Order.

PART 5 – AMENDMENTS TO THE WATER AND SEWERAGE SERVICES
(NORTHERN IRELAND) ORDER 2006

Clause 19: Enforcement authorities

Clause 19 makes various amendments to the Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland)
Order 2006 (“the 2006 Order”) which transfer responsibility for water quality enforcement
action functions and duties in respect of the public supply from DRD to DOE and allows
DOE to gain premises entry and access rights for the purposes of water contamination
investigation of private and public water supplies.

Clause 20: Regulations relating to wholesomeness of water

Clause 20 makes various amendments to the 2006 Order which transfer sole power from
DRD to DOE for making regulations which set out the standards and requirements which
must be met for water to be considered wholesome and the responsibilities of a water
undertaker with regard to fulfilling its duties to provide wholesome water.

Clause 21: Appointment and powers of inspectors

Clause 21 makes various amendments to the 2006 Order which transfer sole power from
DRD to DOE to appoint officers to act on its behalf for the purposes of enforcing the relevant
legislation relating to water quality of both private and public water supplies.

Clause 22: Publication of certain information and advice

Clause 22 amends the 2006 Order to provide DOE with the powers to publish information in
respect of its functions relating to both public and private water supplies.

Clause 23: Transitional provisions

Clause 23 inserts a new Article 302A into the 2006 Order which sets out transitional
provisions to ensure that there is no effect on, or alteration to, previous actions and
regulations made by ‘the Department’, i.e. DRD, under the powers and functions of the 2006
Order which are now transferred fully to DOE by this Bill.

PART 6 - MISCELLANEOUS AND SUPPLEMENTARY

Clauses 24 to 28

Clauses 24 to 28 deal with the Assembly procedures to be followed in relation to regulations
and orders under the Bill, interpretation, repeals and revocations, commencement and the title
of the Bill.

SCHEDULE 1: MATTERS FOR, OR IN CONNECTION WITH, WHICH
REGULATIONS MAY BE MADE UNDER SECTION 2

Schedule 1 specifies matters for, or in connection with, which regulations may be made under
section 2.

Paragraph 1: Emissions

Paragraph 1 enables the regulations to establish emission standards and requirements and to
authorise making of plans for emission limits and quotas.

Paragraph 2: Emissions trading scheme

Paragraph 2 authorises the making of emissions quota trading or transfer schemes and makes
provision for penalties in respect of contravention of a scheme.

Paragraph 3: Regulators

Paragraph 3 enables the regulations to specify the authorities on whom regulatory functions
are conferred (defined as “regulators”), and enables the Department to give guidance and
directions to regulators. It also provides for empowering regulators to appoint persons to
exercise functions and powers conferred by the regulations, and to confer powers on persons
so appointed.

Paragraph 4: Regulation of activities

Paragraph 4 enables the regulations—

  • to prohibit the carrying out of a regulated activity,
  • to prohibit the carrying out of a regulated activity unless authorised by or under regulations, or
  • to authorise the carrying out of a regulated activity in accordance with a                                                                   permit, or subject to a requirement to register the carrying on of the activity, or                                                               subject to compliance with “general environmental rules” (see also clause 4 in                                                          that respect).

Paragraph 5: Permits

Paragraph 6: Registration

Paragraph 7: Provisions common to permits and registration

Paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 enable the regulations to specify the procedures relating to
authorisation of regulated activities by permits and registration. The effect of these
paragraphs is to allow for detailed procedural provisions to be included in the regulations
governing how an application for the permit or registration may be made, how that
application will be assessed and how a permit or registration may be granted. They also
provide a framework for the extent to which the regulations may allow requirements to be
imposed in permits and registrations, as well as allowing regulations to provide mechanisms
for transfer, variation, and consolidation, and for suspension and revocation of permits or
registration (together with a requirement to take associated preventative or remedial action).
These provisions also enable the regulations to specify when registration may be refused and
when a registration may lapse.

Paragraph 7 also allows provision to be made in connection with permits or registrations for
multiple activities or for activities across multiple sites or for multiple persons to be granted a
permit or registration. It allows “standard rules” provision to be made, and provides the basis
for the fit and proper person test to be applied before a permit or registration is granted to a
person or transferred, and to allow a permit or registration to be varied, suspended or revoked
if the operator has ceased to be a fit and proper person.

Paragraph 7 also provides for requirements for remedial /preventative action to btaken where
a permit or registration has been surrendered, suspended or revoked which could be in
addition to any conditions of the licence (sub-paragraph (11)).

Paragraph 7 also provides for any person whose consent would be required before any works
could be carried out under sub-paragraph (11) (most frequently the landowner) to be required
to grant to the licence holder, or join in granting, such rights as will enable them to comply
with the condition.

Paragraph 8: Determination of matters by regulators

Paragraph 9: Making of rules and imposition of conditions

There are supplementary provisions at paragraphs 8 and 9. Paragraph 8 allows regulations to
make provision for anything in paragraphs 5 to 7 which could be provided for by the
regulations to be instead determined by the regulators. Paragraph 9 allows regulations to
provide for the Department and regulators to have regard to specified principles and for
regulators to have regard to any directions or guidance in imposing conditions.

Paragraph 10: Charging schemes

Paragraph 10 enables the regulations to authorise the Department to charge fees or make,
vary or revoke schemes imposing charges in respect of the testing, sampling and analysis of
substances, and assessing the effect on the environment of the release of such substances.
These charges can be imposed prior to the grant of a permit or registration or in assessing
compliance with the condition of a permit or registration. Paragraph 10 also enables charges
to be authorised under the regulations, and the making, etc. of charging schemes by the
Department, in respect of, or in respect of applications for, the grant of a permit and the
variation, transfer, surrender or revocation of a permit or registration. It also applies to
charges in respect of the subsistence or consolidation of permits and registrations and other
specified matters. Paragraph 10 also enables the regulations to regulate the procedures for the
making of such schemes.

Paragraph 11: Information, publicity and consultation

Paragraph 11 enables the regulations to secure that publicity is given to specified matters, and
that public registers are maintained by regulators in respect of such matters. They enable
persons to be required to provide information and/or compile information on emissions,
energy consumption and energy efficiency, and waste. They also enable the regulations to
require or authorise regulators to carry out consultation in connection with the exercise of any
of their functions. Paragraph 11 also enables the regulations to authorise regulators to hold a
public local inquiry in respect of the exercise of any of their functions and for them to take
account of any representations made as a result of any inquiry.

Paragraph 12: Enforcement and offences

Paragraph 12 enables the regulations to confer functions on regulators with respect to
compliance with, and enforcement of, the regulations. This includes conferring a power to
arrange for preventative or remedial action to be taken at the expense of the persons carrying
on a regulated activity and to arrange for the taking of samples or making copies of
information. It also enables the regulations to authorise regulators to serve various notices on
persons carrying on regulated activities.

It also enables the regulations to provide that regulators may require any person served with
such a notice to pay the costs incurred up to the date of service of the notice. It enables the
regulations to provide for enforcement of notices in the High Court. It enables the regulations
to create offences and provide for defences and evidentiary matters and allows offences to be
triable summarily only or on indictment. It also provides the maximum punishments for the
offences that may be set out in the regulations and enables regulations to provide for a court
to be able to order remedial action where a person has been convicted of an offence and for
that person to pay to a regulator the investigation costs incurred by the regulator.

Paragraph 13: Appeals

Paragraph 13 enables the regulations to provide for rights of appeal for various matters, and
for the determination of such appeals as well as the payment of associated fees or costs.

Paragraph 14: Compensation

Paragraph 14 enables provision to be made to make a regulator liable to pay compensation to
any person in respect of any loss or damage sustained by them as a result of certain action
taken by the regulator, e.g. the revocation or modification of a permit in certain
circumstances. It also enables compensation to be payable by a permit/registration holder to a
landowner/landlord in such circumstances. Sub-paragraph (3) expressly expands the
regulation making powers in relation to compensation to provide, for example, the basis on
which any amount paid is to be assessed, when and how applications may be made and
providing for the persons or bodies by whom, and the manner in which, any dispute is to be
determined.

Paragraph 15: Service of notices and other documents

Paragraph 15 enables provision to be made for the service of notices or other required
documents.

Paragraph 16: Application to the Crown

Paragraph 16 provides the application of the regulations to the Crown.

Paragraph 17: Interpretation

Paragraph 17 contains definitions of various terms used in the Schedule.

SCHEDULE 2: REPEALS
Schedule 2 lists the repeals brought in by the Bill.

SCHEDULE 3: REVOCATIONS

Schedule 3 lists the revocations brought in by the Bill.

FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE BILL

19. The main additional public sector financial costs are expected to be those which
emanate from those aspects of the Bill associated with the Department’s Regulatory
Transformation Programme (Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill), for example, development of
legislation, modifications to existing Departmental IT systems, staff training and
guidance to businesses. Fuller details of what these costs are likely to be will be a
matter for the Regulatory Impact Assessments which will accompany the substantive
subordinate legislation programme to be developed in order to give effect to Parts 1 and
2 of the Bill. It is anticipated that the likely benefits to businesses arising from the
implementation of the future subordinate legislation programme in terms of more
efficient and effective regulatory processes should offset any potential increase in
public sector financial costs.

20. No significant additional public sector financial implications have been identified in
respect of the miscellaneous amendments in Parts 3, 4 and 5 of the Bill.

HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES

21. The Department considers the provisions of the Bill to be compatible with the European
Convention on Human Rights.

EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT

22. Under the terms of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Department carried
out screening for equality impact and is satisfied that the provisions in the Bill will not
lead to discriminatory or negative differential impact on any of the section 75 groups.

SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT

23. A Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) is published alongside the Environmental
Better Regulation Bill. Copies are available from the Department of the Environment,
Regulatory and Natural Resources Policy Division, Goodwood House, 44-58 May
Street, Belfast BT1 4NN.

24. A key aim of the Bill is to reduce regulatory burdens on business. The Bill has been
assessed to determine any regulatory impact and it is considered that it does not contain
any provisions that will result in increased or adverse impact on businesses. The
proposed measures in the Bill will bring the regulatory system in Northern Ireland more
in to line with those in place in the rest of the UK. Reductions in environmental
regulatory burdens as a result of measures in the Bill will be realisable for businesses
which are subject to multiple permissions and those which present a low environmental
risk rather than those in particular business sectors.

25. The Bill objectives can only be achieved by legislative change and the RIA has shown
the existence of cost savings or other tangible benefits are sufficient to justify
legislative change.

LEGISLATIVE COMPETENCE

26. The Minister of the Environment had made the following statement under section 9 of
the Northern Ireland Act 1998:

“In my view the Environmental Better Regulation Bill would be within the legislative competence
of the Northern Ireland Assembly.”

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