Climate change, air and water pollution are all the underlying concern of our ever evolving planet. There are regulations and laws about controlling the contamination or our air, water supply, soil, conservation and wildlife.
In the UK, the Environmental Agency’s (EA) remit covers the whole of England, the rivers and 2 million hectares of coastal waters. It has a sharing arrangement with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). The purpose of EA is to protect, enhance and take the best care of the environment as a whole. Its vision is one of a “rich, healthy and diverse environment.” The EA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) work together under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. This includes the sharing of information on activities that relate to the environment and promoting better public awareness. The EA has responsibility for issuing permits for certain industrial, farming, waste management, water activities, radioactive substances and mining waste activities. The HSE works together with the EA in the regulation of oil and gas establishments. Under the Nuclear Installations Act, the HSE regulates duty holders of nuclear establishments. The EA also works with the HSE in this area.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) is the authority for waste management and control of emissions into the environment. Part I of this Act deals with emissions into the environment. Part II sets out the regulation of the acceptable disposal of controlled waste on land. There are other parts of the EPA that deal with other aspects of the environment, from statutory nuisances to litter. Other environmental regulations include the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Climate Change Act 2008, Environment Act 1995 and the Badgers Act 1991.
One set of regulations that keep industries aware of their responsibilities to people and the environment include the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH). Although principally concerned with regulating the storing and handling of large amounts of hazardous industrial chemicals, these regulations help keep the public and the environment safe by modulating the handling of these hazardous chemicals. The aim of the regulations is to prevent the effects on people and the environment of major accidents involving dangerous substances. However, new COMAH Regulations will come into force in Great Britain on 1 June 2015. The main regulations will remain the same but there will be some changes, particularly on how dangerous substances are classified and how information is made available to the public. New or changed duties to COMAH will include a change in definitions, there are also transition arrangements for safety reports and changes in emergency planning. There are also other changes expected in COMAH 2015.