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Businesses split over question of environmental taxes

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Small businesses are divided over how effective green taxes are at promoting good environmental practices, a new survey has revealed.

The study, ‘Business and the Environment’, was carried out on behalf of the UK200Group by Middlesex University.

Almost a half of respondents (45 per cent) said that they agreed or strongly agreed that green taxes are a good way of encouraging businesses to adopt policies protective of the environment.

A similar split occurred on the issue of environmental regulation. Some 53 per cent agreed or strongly agreed with creating additional legislation to improve the environment, while 42 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Many firms, however, only have a broad idea of the existing environmental legislation as it applies to their business operations. While about half could recall the general thrust of environmental laws, only 45 per cent could name the relevant regulations.

Acting on their environmental concerns also appeared problematic for many firms.

The priority given to staff training (51 per cent) and to health and safety (46 per cent) outweighed reducing energy costs (a priority for 28 per cent of the firms polled) and cutting waste (21 per cent).

Asked whether they had green policies in place setting out their environmental aims and procedures, almost six out of ten (58 per cent) reported that they did not.

Miranda Allan, environmental adviser at the Forum of Private Business (FPB), pointed to the business benefits of having effective green policies.

Ms Allan said: “Adopting a purely fire-fighting strategy when it comes to managing your environmental burden can leave companies out of pocket.

“I would instead encourage firms of any size to try to reap the financial rewards available to those who take a more proactive stance.”

Ms Allan argued that evaluating and managing the use of resources more efficiently could save businesses between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of bottom line costs.

She added: “In addition, using their new environmental credibility to the full by creating an environmental policy to explain their proactive stance and targets for the future can help secure future business with like-minded suppliers.”