01 Apr 2000

The Precautionary Principle

The ‘Precautionary Principle’ has become very much a part of the vocabulary of the general environmental scene today. It has found its way into various international declarations and conventions, is being reflected in national legislation and is also included in Article 174 of the Amsterdam Treaty of the EU.

Often appealed to as the basis for ‘we must act now’, ‘we must do more’ or ‘we must go further’, it is viewed by many as a potentially powerful argument for the environmental agenda. In industry, this perception brings with it a real concern that its application threatens another key principle viz. that environmental legislation should be based on sound science and cost effectiveness.