The Environment Agency’s annual review of the business performance covers its regulated sites (i.e. those sites holding an environmental permit or similar). These are sites that will have the greatest environmental impact & will be regulated by permit conditions including a requirement for an Environmental Management System (EMS).
The report notes improvements in sewage treatment by the ten water and sewage companies in England and Wales over the past 25 years have helped reduce pollution significantly, and achieved substantial benefits for the water environment.
In 2011, there were 620 serious pollution incidents representing a 4% decrease over the previous year (2010) and since 2000, serious pollution incidents have fallen by 52%.
Of the 240 of the incidents from permitted sites, or assets associated with permitted companies, 120 were from water company owned sites and 101 from sites involved in waste activities (waste treatment, landfill and biowaste). It is noted that water companies, waste treatment and landfill sectors have the most permits. For these sectors, the number of pollution incidents per permit is lower than the average for all sectors.
It is worth noting that water companies and waste storage, treatment and transfer companies cause about three quarters of serious pollution incidents that the Environment Agency regulates. The report provides an excellent graphical representation of the interaction of the 13 sectors with the environment.
The main persistent poor compliance was evidenced in the waste sector with 170 of the total of 184 environmental permitted sites rated at D, E or F representing 92% of the sites in the Bands.
So why does the report show that permitted sites have such a poor record of compliance even in the higher Bands. Mostly it is a case, that these permitted sites are more aware of their environmental impacts through monitoring and management control that they “self-regulate” and “self-report” any legal non-compliance. This was an outcome found in the LIFE+ funded remas research project.
The remainder of pollution incidents (380) arise from sites or incidents that are not regulated through the environmental permitting regime, such as construction sites and illegal waste sites including fly-tipping of waste. These activities led to non-compliance, largely, due to the organisation not understanding their environmental impacts and how to correctly manage them or wilfully taking illegal actions.
Overall, the report is a valuable opportunity to review the recent environmental performance and compliance issues as seen through the eye’s of the Environment Agency. I am sure that the statistics quoted in the report will be used far-and-wide to support greater calls for improved environmental performance and legal compliance.
Read the report for yourself and decide what you can do to improve your organisations environmental performance and avoid being a non-compliance statistic.
A copy of the report can be found at http://bit.ly/Tzq6Y3