ESA - Environmental Services Association
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Regulation

Background

An effective regulatory regime is the single most important driver for the UK to develop a resource efficient economy. Regulation sets the standards for how waste should be managed and sets sanctions for those who break the rules. It is vital for business and the community that regulation and the enforcement of that regulation is modern, fair, consistent and transparent. For it to be effective, enforcement must identify and target those irresponsible players who are operating outside the legal system; allowing them to operate 'below the radar' creates an unfair playing field for responsible operators.

The Issues

To make the required investment in infrastructure, our industry requires a clear and precise legal framework with a long-term view, which provides clear incentives to maximise the recovery of materials and energy from the waste stream.

Robust and consistent enforcement by the regulator on a national basis is also vital. Unforeseen delays and unnecessary bureaucracy lead to significant expenditure and have a detrimental impact on business planning. It is also important that all operators, large and small, in the waste and resource management sector are working to the same high environmental standards.

Due to its special characteristics and to protect the environment, it is essential that hazardous waste is regulated and treated in a different way to non-hazardous waste. ESA supports the Government's Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management in England, published in March 2010. We hope the strategy, in conjunction with implementation of the revised Waste Framework Directive, will facilitate the provision of infrastructure for the management of hazardous waste, promote treatment of hazardous waste in line with Best Practice in other Member States, as well as reducing reliance on landfill and ending the climate of investment uncertainty caused by existing regulatory derogations.

There must be proper funding for the policing of environmental crime to ensure that there will be zero tolerance of environmental criminals who deliberately flout the rules.

ESA Policy Recommendations

  1. Government must ensure that regulations are implemented in a timely and transparent way and accompanied by clear guidance.

  2. Government must provide adequate funding for the Environment Agency in order for it to employ highly qualified, motivated staff and to discharge its functions properly.

  3. We support smarter regulation based on operators' management systems and on environmental outcomes rather than operational prescription. Regulation should move to a smarter regime that rewards businesses that develop and maintain approved, certified management systems, thereby placing the responsibility for compliance and environmental protection firmly on the operator. This will allow the regulator to focus resources on improvement and environmental outcomes.

  4. The Environment Agency must have zero tolerance for illegal operators. Higher fines must be given by the Courts for these illegal operations.

  5. Government and the Environment Agency must drive forward the Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management by developing guidance and setting out a clear timeline for implementation.