The Environment Agency (EA) was created in 1995. It is sponsored by the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The EA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) work together to protect the environment, employees and the general public. The EA is one of the regulators under the Environmental Permitting Regulations. The EA has control over issuing permits for waste management, water activities, farming and radioactive substances.
The Environment Agency (EA) is the principal flood risk management operating authority. It uses its resources to reduce the likelihood of flooding. The EA has an important role in conservation and the ecology along the rivers and wetlands. It controls the release of pollutants into the air from industry. The EA works with local authorities, such as the Highways agency, to implement the UK’s air quality strategy as mandated in the Environment Act 1995.
Asbestos regulation, waste management, infectious clinical wastes and harmful chemicals also fall under its regulation. Water quality and water resources are also part of its remit. The EA has the duty to improve and maintain the quality of water in rivers, lakes, and the sea along the shoreline. It also maintains the habitats of the fisheries in the UK.
Together with the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 2015 (COMAH) and the HSE, the EA works in protecting the environment against dangerous substances. Other agencies working together include the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales and the Office for Nuclear Regulation. COMAH seeks to protect people and the environment from the risk of major accidents occurring. It ensures that those responsible for creating the risks meet their responsibilities and that emergency arrangements are in place. Dangerous substances can include liquid petroleum gas, explosives and arsenic.
Another of the many environmental laws in the UK includes the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This has responsibility for waste management and control of emissions into the air. Part I of the Act deals with controlling emissions into the environment. Part II regulates and licences the disposal of controlled waste on land. This includes industrial and household waste. Other parts of the Act include the regulation of litter waste, statutory nuisances, risk assessment for genetically modified organisms and nature conservation of the countryside.
There are many European Union Environmental Directives whereby the member countries work together to help maintain the environment. Some of the European directives that the Environment Agency has responsibility for regulating (in the UK) include the Groundwater Directives, Birds Directive, Asbestos Directive and Habitats Directives. There are many others. The EA advises the Government directly on issues regarding the environment.