Over the last ten years, there has been a great deal of discussion on using accredited ISO 14001:2004 certification and EMS auditors to review operational and compliance issues as an alternative to traditional regulatory inspections by Environment Agency (EA).
My recent blog entitled “Waste review: The use of standards as enforcement alternatives” highlighted some of the developing issues in this reinvigorated debate.
Now, a recent development by the EA with strong support from BIS and DEFRA may see third-party EMS auditors assessing a site against a compliance protocol developed by the EA with an aim to reduce regulatory inspections of sites maintaining an EMS with a good compliance classification score. This development could mean lower EA inspection charges and fewer visits for sites taking part in the voluntary scheme.
Initially, the pilot project will target the heavily regulated sectors, such as the cement, food and drink, and waste management, to test the protocol and whether the perceived benefits of third-party review can be realised.
The realisation of benefits should not be doubted as the EA, itself, was a partner in the remas project (http://remas.iema.net/), which concluded that organisations, which operated an accredited and certified EMS, showed improved site environmental management activities.
Further details on the pilot project can be found at: http://bit.ly/gQ9vaK