For several years, DEFRA has been pushing local authorities to improve their performance in implementing LAPC. It has stepped up the pressure by naming and shaming the poorest performing councils - a strategy which gave promising results in 2001/02 (ENDS Report 336, p 11 ).
DEFRA has now offered a carrot in the shape of an award scheme for "excellence and innovation in controlling local industrial pollution". Six awards will be made for best practice in any aspect of pollution control, including management and planning, working with industry and the public, and innovative approaches to securing compliance. Nominations close by 15 March 2004.
All 388 authorities responded to the latest survey for 2002/03 - the second year running which achieved a 100% response rate:
The average number of inspections for processes other than service stations and small waste oil burners rose from 1.5 per process in 2000/01 to 1.7 in 2001/02 - and reached 1.9 last year, just short of DEFRA's target. DEFRA has named 31 councils which failed to achieve an average of one visit per process.
Only one annual inspection is expected for service stations and waste oil burners. Again, authorities' performance improved in 2002/03 - with average rates rising to 0.98 and 0.92 respectively.
In 2000/01, there were nine successful prosecutions with total fines of £87,510 - falling to £62,500 for six prosecutions in the following year. In 2002/03, total fines fell substantially to £39,616, spread across eight successful prosecutions. In a ninth case, the company being prosecuted closed without assets.
The number of notices also fell from a record 2,780 in 2001/02 to 2,709 in 2002/03. Most were variation notices, but councils also served 163 enforcement notices and three prohibition notices - compared to 183 and one, respectively, in 2001/02.
Councils' total income from LAPC fees fell from £8.9 million in 2001/02 to £8.3 million - an average of £21,272 per authority.