A new report by the UK’s Environment Agency (EA) has called for increased UK industry environment compliance to reduce serious pollution and waste incidents.
The EA’s annual ‘Regulating for People, Environment and Growth (RPEG)’ report, published last week, found that levels of UK industry environment compliance are already above 98%; and that greenhouse gas emissions from industry processes have halved in the last 10 years. 92% of industry operators were found to have demonstrated ‘good’ compliance with the terms of their environmental permits; while 72% of waste produced by industrial processes operating with permits was recovered: a record high for UK industry waste.
Chief Executive of the Environment Agency James Bevan said: “The biggest single threat to everything we all care about, and the biggest threat to everything the Environment Agency exists to do – protect people from flood and drought, enhance the environment, support sustainable growth – is the climate emergency. One of our key tools as a nation to help tackle the climate crisis is regulation. And regulation isn’t red tape: the right kind of regulation, that is simple, risk based, proportionate and aims for partnership, helps enhance our environment, protects communities and unlocks growth. As the country continues to prepare to leave the EU, we have an opportunity to do regulation even better. So EU exit doesn’t mean taking down regulations, or relaxing regulation. The Environment Agency stands ready to clamp down on offenders as robustly as before.”
In 2018, the report showed, the EA brought prosecutions resulting in fines worth a total of just under £2.8m (€3.24m). The year saw 533 ‘serious pollution incidents’: a reduction in 14% over 10 years, but 27% higher than the number of serious incidents in 2017. The EA closed down 912 illegal waste sites in 2018 – a 12% increase in comparison to 2017 – and discovered 896 new sites where waste was dumped or stored illegally.
Gillian Pratt, Deputy Director at the Environment Agency, said: “Our regulation is supporting a healthier environment and safer communities. The majority of businesses we regulate are well run. But all businesses must make improvements to ensure their operations help protect the environment and local communities. Waste crime continues to blight communities, cause environmental harm, and undercut legitimate business. Businesses need to do more to manage their risks and reduce pollution incidents.”
The EA has set itself the target of becoming a net zero organisation by 2030, committing to removing as much carbon from the environment as it emits.