Environmental incidents up by a third since 2019

There were 33% more environmental incidents in 2021 compared to 2019, according to Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) annual regulation report.

According to the report, in 2021 the regulator received 8,960 reports of high and low category incidents, over 1,000 more than 2020.

The report states that even though the ability to attend incidents in 2021 was still affected by the pandemic, the regulator managed to attend 27%, compared to 21% in 2020. 

42% of the incidents reported related to water, including water pollution, abstraction and blockage or alteration to a watercourse. 35% of the incidents reported were related to waste, these included fly-tipping, the burning of waste, illegal waste sites and waste carriers offences.


Figures included in the report also show that in 2021, the number of enforcement cases created by NRW totalled 1,002, an increase of 343 on the previous year.

These cases included 1,373 legal charges taken against 956 potential offenders, made up of 355 companies and 601 individuals.

The report also highlights a significant increase in the number of applications for permits and licences, which NRW states “reflects a growing understanding and commitment from businesses to comply with environmental regulation”. 

Martyn Evans, regulatory futures team leader for NRW said: “While this report shows some improving trends, we know that there is so much more to do. The quality of the Welsh environment is not where we, our partners and the people of Wales want it to be, and we will need a collaborative approach to address the issues Wales faces. 

“We continue to see pressures on our natural environment, and regulatory non-compliance, waste crime and pollution incidents inflict needless, yet significant damage. This, in turn, impacts communities and undermines legitimate businesses.”