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Are You Operating Your Business in Line With Environmental Law?

February 09, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 151

Every business has an environmental impact. In many cases, this will require compliance with waste, water, air or noise regulations - or all, depending on the type of business that you operate.

Conventional compliance/intervention led regulations focus on whether your business is complying with the terms and conditions of its environmental permit or licence. The Environmental Agencies regulate, inspect and monitor licence holders routinely.

Recently, there has been a spate of cases where operators have been in breach their licence / permit conditions with severe consequences for offenders. The severity of the action depends on the nature and seriousness of the offence and can often result in prosecution.

The compliance assessment system is not only a proven method of ensuring that regulated operators comply with environmental law, it is an extremely effective deterrent as the financial and/or reputational damage to the operator can be significant.

Like many intervention systems, its primary focus is on monitoring regulated activities undertaken by registered operators. It does however have its limitations and relies heavily on the public to report unregulated activity and poor environmental practice. As public awareness of environmental issues increases, more unregulated activity and poor practice is being reported, so much so, that there really is no hiding place for illegal activities.

The Environmental Agencies are increasingly adopting a 'harm-led' approach. This is designed to enhance existing regulatory compliance methods. Fundamentally, it will provide increased focus on activities which have the greatest potential to cause the most harm to the environment.

Collation of robust and reliable data underpins the harm-led approach. The Environment Agencies already have well developed licensing and complaints database systems which contain substantial historical environmental monitoring and inspection data.

This intelligence can be used to analyse trends and patterns and can provide a basis for spotlight investigations which can identify and grade the most harmful and illegal activities and provide an evidence base for targeted action against offenders. This approach has recently prevented illegal export of a significant quantity of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) which contains hazardous waste and is strictly controlled due to the potential for significant environmental and social harm.

A collaborative harm-led approach between government agencies is critical when dealing with environmental crime and helps to ensure that crime is detected quickly and prompt action taken to minimise the impact. It is clear that this is part of a growing coordinated effort to protect our natural environment against poor practice and illegal activity.

Given the considerable investment made by the government and the environmental agencies to educate and raise environmental awareness, it is difficult to envisage a situation where lack of awareness may be viewed sympathetically or offered up as a defence. It is simply not worth putting hard won reputation or financial resources at risk so invest a little time and gain a clear understanding of how the environmental regulations may affect your business now and in the future.

Eric Monson BSc

EMC Business Solutions aims to assist businesses in the development of environmental quality management systems, providing a platform for regulatory compliance, sustainable business growth and increased profitability.

Find out more at

Source: EzineArticles
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