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Evidence Based Versus Value Based Policy: some case studies in UK safety and environmental regulation

Mr Michael Spackman
CARR Visiting Fellow and Special Advisor National Economic Research Associates (NERA)
Email: michael.spackman@nera.com|

Date: 29 January 2002
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Venue
: CARR Seminar Room, H615

Abstract

The motives driving safety and environmental regulation are sometimes categorised as evidence-based (comparing social costs and benefits), value-based (ethical/political acceptability), or interest-based (e.g. NIMBY, or company profits). Within government, the main value-based drivers underlying the design and implementation of safety and environmental regulation regimes are usually those of lobby groups and the media. Recent years have seen a heightened, overt emphasis on "evidence-based policy", in parallel with a greater concern with spin and Government popularity. This produces a tension when evidence-based regulation is more difficult to sustain than highly extravagant, or less safe alternatives. This presentation examines these tensions in the context of recent publications of the HSC/HSE and of DETR/DEFRA, and practical examples including road and rail safety and radioactive discharges. It concludes that the current tendency is a drift away from evidence-based regulation, and that this is in part because of the lack of progress in integrating value-based drivers into an evidence-based framework.

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