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moderation for environmental regulators

Comment 13th July 2010

As a business that requires regular licences for dredging, piling, reclamation, marine works and building consents in coastal areas we have a difficult time.  Currently there is no way to appeal against the judgement of environmental officers working for Environment agency, English nature or Countryside council for wales. The officers are overzealous in applying rules emanating from the Habitats directive and other similar acts, they work on the precautionary principle whereby the applicant is obliged to prove "they are not having  a negative effect". This often becomes a game of find the invisible man, after spending years and often hundreds of thousands of pounds proving the painfully obvious to the ill informed few there is no method of redress against these individuals that have often been most unreasonable. i would like to see a measure of moderation and accountability for these agencies.The burden of proof needs to shift from the applicant to the regulator at some point and the consequence of not granting the licence need to be assessed in terms of the local communities affected by these insular and often poor decisions.

Why does this matter?

Because every day the citizens of this country are denied new or improved leisure and commercial marine facilities by irrational and unjustified decisions by environmental regulators. These poor decisions cost local communities and ironically often prevent anyone from acting to preserve a natural resource. The lymington river marshes are a perfect case in point, the marshes are too heavily designated with environmental tags, SAC, SSSI, Ramsar, ANOB, National park etc for anyone to be permitted to protect the marshes against adverse effects. English nature are the single biggest obstacle preventing anyone from saving or regenerating these marshland habitats. The onus to disprove a negative is potty and counterproductive, any beneficial effects are ignored in the decision process, which is wrong.

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