Our approach to better regulation

Most environmental health practitioners are engaged in the business of regulation, ensuring that the highest standards of environmental and public health are being met by business, industry and employers.

In doing so, they make judgements about the most appropriate interventions – from education and encouragement through to service of official notices and instigating legal proceedings. Effective regulation helps to create the level playing field to allow business to thrive.

EHPs inspect premises for food safety, health and safety, animal welfare, housing standards and pest control. They are also responsible for air quality, noise control, food imports, infectious disease control and health improvement.

The CIEH therefore has a vital interest in the way that the regulatory framework is organised and the principles underlying the regulatory approach.

We are less concerned with the structures of regulation, than with ensuring that environmental and public health is always critical to the central purpose of regulation. In our view, the issue is not primarily about who does what and how, but of how priorities are set and co-ordinated, and what underpins those priorities.

  • We support the promotion of more efficient approaches to regulatory inspection and enforcement without reducing regulatory outcomes. But we also believe that the administrative burden on regulators should be reduced – a reduction in the administrative burden should not in effect be a shift from business to regulators.
  • We believe that there should be a more joined-up approach amongst regulators, at both national and local level.

Local government’s track record in this respect is superior to that of national government. Many of the problems local regulators face are caused by having to work within an uncoordinated national regulatory framework, without a clear hierarchy of priorities and where local conditions have to be set against national objectives and targets.

There is a lack of a clear central government focus on environmental health and its regulatory role, for instance there is no clear “sponsor” or “champion” department for environmental within the government machinery.

  • We recommend the placing of greater emphasis on the role of advice and education to assist businesses to comply with regulatory requirements; we believe that local regulators would prefer to prioritise this approach over enforcement.
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