Odds and ends in the Environment Bill

The main powers and duties of the Environment Agency and its structure are likely to receive most attention as the Environment Bill continues its passage through Parliament. But the Bill will also make many changes to the fine print of established features of environmental law which will have significant implications for both the Agency and those it regulates. Among these will be the abolition of the long-standing "tripartite" sampling procedure, making it easier to prosecute for water pollution offences. The Agency will also have new powers to serve enforcement notices to correct or head off breaches of discharge consents or waste licences. But the proposed deregulation of the discharge consent procedure will reduce public participation and weaken existing controls over discharges. Important questions are also raised by the Bill's provisions on the Agency's powers of entry, and by the powers it will provide the Secretary of State to influence its activities.

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