Environment Agency and Natural England set for wider powers
The UK Government announced in July 2023 that new legislation will grant the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural England wider powers to prosecute companies committing pollution offenses or in breach of their permits.
This has come following a public consultation that received widespread coverage and support, mainly around concerns over surface water quality and frustration at the reportedly low rates of prosecutions.
The aim is to make every polluter pay for their damage to the environment, as Therese Coffey (UK Environment Secretary) said “Polluters must always pay. We are scrapping the cap on civil penalties and significantly broadening their scope to target a much wider range of offenses – from breaches of storm overflow permits to the reckless disposal of hazardous waste.”
The EA has for a long time complained of a lack of resources; on larger breaches and repeat offenders, they often had to compile onerous cases of evidence and go through the time-consuming process of a criminal penalty. This has restricted their capability to perform more routine work such as inspections and warning notices.
This change in the law removes the maximum penalty cap that the EA can fine, simultaneously bringing more cases within their sanctioning remit whilst freeing-up time to pursue a greater number of routine inspections and enforcement notices.
Alan Lovell, EA Chair says of their new powers, “We regularly prosecute companies and individuals through criminal proceedings, but these new powers will allow us to deliver penalties that are quicker and easier to enforce, even though the most serious cases will continue to go to court.
“That should be an important deterrent – boosting compliance across a range of sectors, driving down pollution and safeguarding the ecology and prosperity of our natural world.”
Increase efficiency in your water discharge compliance
The vast majority of businesses in the UK go to great lengths to avoid pollution, but this comes at a high management expense, and it is practically challenging to remove any risk of a breach.
Companies in certain industries, such as waste handling and recycling, and any company undertaking certain activities such as water abstraction or discharge have to apply for licenses from the EA (or its equivalent). The ongoing requirements to monitor, and make records available for inspection at any time can tie up a lot of management time, even if all systems continue to operate as designed.
A system such as EnviroHub can drastically improve both water abstraction and discharge compliance, bringing efficiency of environmental monitoring and reducing risk for companies involved in these controlled activities.
EnviroHub is a modular system configured to your water management needs and is well-proven in silt removal, and high pH remediation making it the go-to for construction, C&D waste recycling, cement plants and quarries. It monitors and automatically treats wastewater whilst controlling pumping systems and alerting management to potential issues before they become a problem. Furthermore, its data recording (including flow rates and volume) makes it very easy to deal with short-notice inspections and requests for info from the EA.
Find out today how EnviroHub can help save you time and money on your water discharge license management or increase automation in your water management plan (WMP).