The EA wants industry to improve its compliance performance. Photograph: Chris Conway / Getty Images The EA wants industry to improve its compliance performance. Photograph: Chris Conway / Getty Images

EA demands more from industry as environmental permit compliance declines

The number of sites fully complying with their environmental permits is declining, according to ENDS’ analysis of Environment Agency figures published last week.

In a report summarising installation and waste operator permit compliance statistics, the agency says that 92% (12,676) were rated in the highest compliance bands A and B in 2018. But it does not mention that this is a 2% decrease from 2017 when 12,923 permits were graded A and B. Nor does it mention that fewer permits were held in total in 2018 (13,771) than in 2017 (13,890).

Sites in compliance bands A and B have demonstrated an expected level of permit compliance, according to the agency. Those in compliance bands C and D must “improve in order to achieve permit compliance” and those in E and F must “significantly improve” and are more likely to have their permit revoked unless there is substantial evidence that they are working towards quickly achieving compliance.

The figures reveal that the number of sites needing to work on their permit compliance is increasing. The number rated in the lowest E and F category increased by 28% between 2017 (166) and 2018 (213) and those rated C and D increased by 10% from 801 to 882.

The agency says in the report that compliance in the waste sector “needs significant improvement”. In 2018, 3.6% of all the waste sector permits were rated D, E or F for compliance, compared with an average of 1.7% across the non-waste sectors.

There was a slight improvement in the number of 140 persistently poorly managed sites (those having permits in D, E or F bands for two or more consecutive years) in 2018, four less than in 2017, according to the agency, with most poor performers in the waste sector. The agency says the number of persistently poorly managed landfill sites also improved, dropping from 37 in 2017 to 30 in 2018. 

Gillian Pratt, deputy director of the Environment Agency, said: “The majority of businesses we regulate are well run. But all businesses must make improvements to ensure their operations help protect the environment and local communities.

“Waste crime continues to blight communities, cause environmental harm, and undercut legitimate business. Businesses need to do more to manage their risks and reduce pollution incidents.”


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