Thursday, 8 March 2012

Red tape holding us back?

‘Red Tape’ is one of everybody’s favourite bêtes noirs.  It’s something which prevents people doing whatever it is that they want to do and think that they should be allowed to do; ties up resources in unnecessary activity; and is generally a ‘bad thing’. 
Businesses in particular hate the stuff.  Apparently it stops them hiring people because they can’t simply sack them when they want to, stops them from keeping their employees at work for however many hours they need them to work, and forces them to abide by all sorts of rules and regulations, such as health and safety and environmental protection, without which they could get on with making their profits.
And that’s the rub.  Whilst it’s easy to agree with the general (unnecessary regulation is a bad thing), it’s a lot harder to agree on the specifics (which regulation is really unnecessary).  Tuesday’s Western Mail contained an article about economic activity in the Haven, and the headline was that experts and businesses were complaining that the future of the area was being put under threat by too much red tape.
It was a lengthy article, quoting various people complaining about the extent to which their activity is regulated; but it was remarkably short when it came down to detailing which regulations were causing the concern and why.  The closest that it came was in talking about "the increasing burden of environmental regulation, regulatory pressure and issues surrounding the planning procedures for new developments”.
Now I don’t doubt for a moment that relaxing controls on environmental pollution and doing away with planning controls would make it easier for some organisations to make money.  It might even lead to more material prosperity for a larger number of people.  But at what cost?
There is always scope for debate about whether particular rules and regulations are entirely necessary or can be amended or tweaked with no detrimental impact.  But, and not for the first time, I‘m left with a feeling that an attack on red tape is really a backdoor request to be allowed to do greater damage to the physical environment in pursuit of private profit.

1 comment:

Boncath said...

Truth2 in the comments to the Western Mail article makes good sense
The prescence of Oil and LNG tankers in the Haven dominates the use of the asset. Wales has a very very small benefit from this and a sensible analysis would probably show a real loss in terms of how this asset is being used If push comes to shove the Ferry traffic will be transferred to
An Independent Welsh Government would revive a small scale Naval prescence here. see Article 563 Planning for a Free Wales
No provision has been made for Cruise ships in this scenario as the risk analysis precludes the mixture of fuel and people carriers given the narrowness of the navigable parts of this waterway for shipping of these types and their vulnerability in high side winds