What has caused anger this time is that having decided to lodge an objection to the experiment, local residents were not told that the proposals were to go through a simplified procedure that cuts down the amount of time spent on scrutiny. By the time the Department of the Environment sent background information on the release, and the objectors had canvassed expert views, the Advisory Committee on Release to the Environment (which advises the Government on such proposals) had already given the experiment the go-ahead.
As a member of Acre, I find this entirely unsatisfactory. New procedures that are even simpler still, known as 'fast-track', will mean even further erosion of the time in which the public can comment on proposals. Unless handled very sensitively, these procedures could easily lead to reduction in public confidence in the regulatory system.
It must be made clear to people why the regulatory system is happy to handle some proposals more quickly than others, and exactly what is the scope for lodging objections. In particular, it should be made clear that, given sufficient new evidence, a consent for an experiment can be revoked at any time. Public representations and objections are never a waste of time.
Director, The Green Alliance
The writer is a member of the Government's Advisory Committee on Release to the Environment.Reuse content