Environment Agency chief executive James Bevan says he wants better regulation, not to water down standards
Your article (Environment Agency chief supports plan to weaken river pollution rules, 19 August) is wrong to say that I “endorsed a proposal to water down laws on cleanliness of polluted rivers, lakes and coastlines after Brexit”. What I said was that the water framework directive was “a candidate for thoughtful reform to deliver even better outcomes”.
This was as part of a speech titled In Praise of Red Tape: Getting Regulation Right – which can be read online at gov.uk – in which I said we should have a debate about which bits of inherited EU environmental law we should keep or change; and that the test should be whether changing the law “will allow us to regulate better and achieve higher environmental standards”.
I also said regulation is essential to protect the environment; that it works, which is why many of our rivers are cleaner than at any time since the Industrial Revolution; that it needs teeth, including in tackling water companies which pollute our waters; and that it should aim to enhance the environment, not just protect it. The Guardian is rightly keen on debate: I hope you will support one on this vital issue.
Chief executive, Environment Agency
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