ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT 1990
In recent years, the volume of environmental regulations has increased dramatically. This means that it is more important to have a thorough understanding of all relevant legislation.
The Control of Pollution Act 1974 (COPA), which was succeeded by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA), introduced new regulations to improve management systems for waste and pollution. While many of its parts were repealed, regulations outlined by the EPA served as a foundation for much of the subsequent legislation.
The EPA outlines legal responsibilities for controlling pollution on land, water and air. The Act covers waste disposal as well as statutory nuisances such as noise and smells. Companies can evaluate their implementation of environmental policies and make sure they comply with the regulations by having a thorough understanding of the EPA regulations.
Pollution Control for Land and Air
The first section of the EPA focuses on industrial emissions. It also introduces Integrated Pollution Control. Section 4 of EPA states that IPC was created to ‘prevent, minimise, or minimize pollution of the environment by the release of substances in any environmental medium’. This new regime replaces the regulations in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The HASAWA stipulated that an organization’s duty was to use ‘the best possible means’ to prevent the emission of ‘offensive substances. This was updated by the EPA, which imposed a more strict regulatory system. The EPA, for example, requires that all relevant activities be authorized in writing with an IPC license. Businesses can reduce their emissions by improving their management and control.
The second section of the EPA outlines all aspects related to waste management on land. It also identifies local authorities responsible for collecting waste. Increased regulation of the waste disposal sector as a result of changes in management and distribution of waste disposal licenses. This led to its growth and evolution. The Control of Pollution Act 1974 (COPA) passed responsibility for waste from one operator to another throughout the entire disposal process. The EPA changed the regulations governing waste disposal by regulating activities like waste storage, handling and treatment. All firms must have a waste management license regardless of their role in the disposal process.
Section 34 of EPA states that businesses have a ‘duty to care’ for ensuring that waste is transferred to a level that is ‘reasonable under the circumstances’. Failure to follow the regulations can lead to the prosecution of company officials. Penalties can include fines up to £20,000, and in some cases even imprisonment sentences. Companies and organizations have a responsibility for ensuring that all waste generated by them is properly and safely handled according to the EPA.
The third section of the EPA deals with statutory nuisances. Section 79 of EPA states that a statutory nuisance must cause a ‘prejudice to health’ or a nuisance’ to be considered. A statutory nuisance is any noise, smell, light, or insect infestation that results from commercial and industrial premises and threatens the quality and well-being of the surrounding residents may be considered. This includes noise from factories, construction sites and streets.
Serving abatement notices is typically the responsibility of the local authority’s environmental health officer. These notices outline the corrective actions that must be taken to eliminate the nuisance. If an organisation fails to follow an abatement notice, they may face fines up to £20,000. This can not only affect the reputation and reliability of the business, but it may also cause damage to its relationships with shareholders and impact its ability to get permits in the future.
The Way Things Have Changed
The EPA is one of the most important statutes currently in force in the U.K. and it is important that businesses understand its regulations. While there are higher monitoring and contracting fees associated with effective environmental management, the penalties for not complying with environmental regulations can be much more severe. The need to be more environmentally conscious is more prevalent than ever, and an understanding of statutes such as the EPA is a great way to start thinking about how we can limit our impact on the environment. Without a proper understanding of the EPA, organisations risk damaging the environment, breaking the law and affecting the success of the business.