David Cameron to rip up green regulations

Prime minister says plans to scrap or amend more than 3,000 regulations will save businesses £850m a year

David Cameron will on Monday boast of tearing up 80,000 pages of environmental protections and building guidelines as part of a new push to build more houses and cut costs for businesses.

In a speech to small firms, the prime minister will claim that he is leading the first government in decades to have slashed more needless regulation than it introduced.

Among the regulations to be watered down will be protections for hedgerows and rules about how businesses dispose of waste, despite Cameron’s claims to lead the greenest government ever.

Addressing the Federation of Small Businesses conference, Cameron will argue that the new rules will make it “vastly cheaper” for businesses to comply with their environmental obligations.

The government also plans to scrap many building standards relating to things such as the size of windows and demands for renewable energy sources, saving builders about £500 for each new home.

“We have trawled through thousands of pieces of regulation, from the serious to the ridiculous, and we will be scrapping or amending over 3,000 regulations – saving business well over £850m every single year. That’s half a million pounds which will be saved for businesses every single day of the year,” Cameron will claim.

No 10 sources insisted that the new rules would not necessarily mean the environment suffers, as they claim many of the regulations are obsolete.

However, the move comes after the coalition was criticised for overhauling planning guidance to make way for new homes, relaxing restrictions on how developers can build on green spaces.

Amid a severe housing shortage, particularly in the south-east, the coalition is desperate for builders to start work on new homes.

Cameron’s pitch to small businesses appears to be the first stage of a fightback against Labour’s attempts to depict itself as the champion of small businesses.

Last month, Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, pledged to give small firms more help with escalating business rates and soaring energy costs. Speaking at the same conference as Cameron, Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, will promise to create a new small business agency – modelled on the small business administration under US president Barack Obama – if Labour wins the next election.

This body would “remove blockages to business growth, ensuring the voices of small businesses and entrepreneurs are better heard in policymaking”.

Umunna will say: “So Britain can grow its way out of the cost of living crisis and build a balanced recovery built to last, we need to do all we can to help our small businesses grow, create new jobs and meet their aspirations.

“We need government to be a better servant – and customer – of our small businesses and to make sure that entrepreneurs’ voices are heard at the top table. A UK Small Business Administration is necessary to realising this ambition.”

Karen Mills, former head of the US small business administration and a former member of Obama’s cabinet, will also address the conference and urge politicians to give small businesses “a seat at the table”.

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