Evaluation of Compliance: Part II

In this second part of an article on the evaluation of compliance, I will explain the difference between the evaluation of compliance and internal audit & describe the evaluation of compliance in relation to the Code of Practice.

You will recall that the earlier part of this article explained the role of The Weeds Act 1959, The Ragwort Control Act 2003 and the Code of Practice on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort (Defra, PB9840, 2004 Revised 2007). These requirements will be used to illustrate an evaluation of compliance.

Internal Audit
An internal audit (Clause 4.5.5 of ISO 14001:2004) is designed to determine whether the environmental management system conforms to planned arrangements for environmental management including the requirements of ISO 14001:2004 and that it has been properly implemented and is maintained.

The three inputs to this process are the requirements of ISO 14001:2004, the planned arrangements and the actual situation. These inputs into the internal audit provide for an outcome of a Finding with two variations: conformity and non-conformity. Whilst we all recognise that some organisations prefer to use other categories or designations for non-conformities, such as major non-conformity, minor non-conformity and observations, none-the-less there are only two outcomes. Often conformity does not get its due recognition as non-conformity is a highly emotive word that gets everyone’s attention from the Chief Executive downwards.

A simple model for this process is:

Internal Audit Process

Evaluation of Compliance
An evaluation of compliance follows a similar process to internal audit but is distinct as one of the inputs is not the management system requirements but the legal or other requirements. The other input, being, the evidence of its actual performance with respect to these legal or other requirements, whether these are facts and figures derived from monitoring and measurement or other formal or evidence, such as the results of internal audit or photographs of the waste skips.

The outcome from the evaluation process will be the Compliance Status, which can either compliance or non-compliance with the legal or other requirements.

A simple model for this process looks similar to that for internal audit:

A typical example of the evaluation of compliance, the inputs might be the analytical data from the monitoring of air emission evaluated with respect to the permitted levels within the environmental permit.

The Weeds Act 1959
In the earlier article, it was noted that The Weeds Act 1959 provides for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fishers (MAFF), now, Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) through Natural England, to have the power to give notice to require an occupier of land to prevent the spreading of any of the specified injurious weeds. There are no specific requirements under the Act for the occupier save that it is in their interest to undertake weed control and so prevent spreading of the weeds defined in the Act and to respond to such notices that may be severed on them from time to time.

Accordingly, an evaluation of compliance with respect to the Weeds Act 1959 can, only, be made in relation to whether the organisation has received a notice requiring the removal of the weeds specified in the Act within the specified time within the notice. The body with the current responsibility to issue the enforcement notice is Natural England.

Legal Requirement:
To respond to an enforcement notice in relation to its specific requirements and the timescales when issued by Natural England

Actual Situation:
No enforcement note issued under The Weeds Act 1959

Has the organisation received an enforcement notice under The Weeds Act 1959

Compliance Status:
The organisation is in-compliance with the legal requirements of The Weeds Act 1959

Similarly, if the organisation had received a notice then the Evaluation process would evaluate the specific requirements with the actions taken & the timescale with the actual timescale

The Ragwort Control Act 2003
The evaluation of compliance with The Ragwort Control Act 2003 is not a practical proposition as none of its requirements apply to the occupier of land where ragwort is growing. It specifies the power of the Minister to make the Code of Practice and revise where necessary, consult with other persons, lay the Code before Parliament & to make the Code admissible in court and how it may be considered in court proceedings.

These requirements relate to the Minister and not the occupier. Hence, an evaluation of compliance cannot be carried out as there are no legal requirements to input into the evaluation process.

Code of Practice on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort (Defra, PB9840, 2004 Revised 2007)
As can be recalled from the earlier article, The Code of Practice is not a legal requirement even though it may be admissible in court and can be used in such proceedings.

In ISO 14001:2004 terms, the Code of Practice is an “other requirement”, which can be subjected to a similar process as the evaluation of legal compliance in accordance with Clause rather than Clause

Any evaluation of compliance with the Code of Practice will, of necessity, vary depending on the circumstances and may be complex due to the number of guidelines within the Code.

For brevity, I have chosen an example of the risk assessment of ragwort given on page 4 of the Code of Practice, where the input “other requirements” for the evaluation should be the requirement upon owners / occupiers that, they should:

  • identify land on which ragwort is present
  • review the risk of spread to land used for grazing or conserved forage production on a six-monthly basis
  • ensure managed grassland is maintained in a good condition where  appropriate and safe to do so avoid removing ground cover in amenity
  • areas, roadside verges and on railway land unless provisions are made for the appearance of ragwort
  • pay particular attention to areas of bare/disturbed land

I trust that these two articles have provided a good grounding in the determination of legal and other requirements (c.f. The Weeds Act 1959 vs. The Defra Code of Practice) & the difference between Internal Audit and the Evaluation of Compliance.

I welcome any comments that you may make in the concepts described in the two articles.

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