Yorkshire Water pays for environmental damage

Yorkshire Water has agreed to pay £300,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust after a sewage discharge led to environmental damage and pollution in Leeds in 2018.

The company breached its environmental permit due to an unauthorised sewage discharge from its Garforth Storm Tanks, which led to a pollution incident at Kippax Beck.

Yorkshire Water submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency, which has now been accepted.

An Enforcement Undertaking is a voluntary offer made by companies and individuals to make amends for their offending.

Flows at Garforth Storm Tanks are managed by an automated valve, controlling and isolating the sewage. The tanks will fill during times of heavy rainfall.

If the valve fully closes, it means all sewage and rainfall are diverted to the storm tanks and an alarm alerts Yorkshire Water. Sewage levels in the storm tanks are then monitored using level sensors and alarms.

On 17 November 2018, the Environment Agency alerted Yorkshire Water to discoloured water in Kippax Beck. Enquiries by the company revealed the valve was fully closed. It meant the storm tanks had filled and were discharging into a nearby watercourse.

Neither the valve alarm nor the storm tank sewage level alarms had triggered, meaning the system had appeared to be operating as normal. The valve was manually opened to prevent any further discharge.

The impact was widespread and appeared to have affected the beck and its wildlife for 3.3km.

Area Environment Manager, Ben Hocking, said: “When companies fail to meet their environmental obligations, it’s a serious matter and we will take appropriate action, which may include civil sanctions.

“Enforcement Undertakings are an effective enforcement option to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements.

“This payment of £300,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will bring great benefits to nature reserves in the local area.”

The offer from Yorkshire Water details how it has also taken steps to make improvements, including replacing and repairing machinery and equipment, carrying out a review of alarms, and completing an environmental survey.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will use the donation to fund a series of projects at nature reserves in the Lower Aire valley.

 

This is valid as of 1st March 2022.

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£8.1 billion to support green infrastructure in Wales

[Wales] Welsh Government Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has said tackling the climate and nature emergency is the “overarching ambition” of Wales’ new Infrastructure Investment Strategy.

The strategy is underpinned by investment of more than £8.1 billion over the next three years.

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “Our budget set the foundations to strengthen public services, tackle the climate and nature emergency, and support a zero-carbon economy. Investment in the right infrastructure, in the right places, will be vital in achieving this.

“Investment will differ from sector to sector and from programme to programme, but we will look to position all future investments so they play their part in helping Wales reach net zero. All areas of spend will consider environmental outcomes, even those which may have a different primary focus.

“The overarching ambition of our investment will be to tackle the climate and nature emergency. It will be to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to support the Wales we want to hand on to future generations – a stronger, fairer, greener Wales.”

According to the Welsh Government’s plans, £770 million will be invested in public transport – with a £585 million investment in rail and a £185 million investment in bus travel – by 2025. This will provide newer and greener rolling stock, continue development of the Core Valley Lines, and support integrated transport through Metro schemes.

The strategy will also support the creation of a National Forest and improve access to landscapes and outdoor recreation through investment in designated landscapes and the development of the Wales Coast Path, National Trails and Public Rights of Way network. In total more than £153 million will be spent to support Wales’ nature and environment.

The effects of climate change are also being guarded against with investment of more than £100 million on flood defences. More than 45,000 homes will benefit from additional flood protection measures in this Senedd term, and more than 17,400 homes around the Welsh coastline will see reduced risk through the Coastal Risk Management Programme.

Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, commented: “By investing in infrastructure we’ll open up greener forms of transport to more people, providing more choice in how we’re all able to get around. And infrastructure is about more than our built environments; we’re dedicating significant funding to enhance Wales’ natural spaces, including through the National Forest. We want to encourage people’s connection to nature and through it support their wellbeing.

“This is another step in the right direction, and we know we need to do more in the next ten years than we’ve done in the last thirty if we’re to reach our NetZero target by 2050.”

 

This is valid as of 16th February 2022.

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Deadline for UK REACH to be extended

Last week, Defra committed to exploring alternative arrangements for UK REACH transitional registrations in order to support chemical businesses whilst upholding the highest standards to safeguard public health and the environment.

The UK is committed to a robust regulatory system for the control of chemicals which ensures the UK’s high levels of environment protection, underpinned by the Environment Act. UK REACH is the government’s regulatory tool for achieving this – ensuring companies that put chemicals on the market understand and manage the risks they might pose.

This regulatory system has been in place since the UK left the European Union, and chemical businesses operating within Great Britain should have already provided initial information under the UK REACH transitional provisions.

Whilst this initial information has already been provided, the government will consult on extending the deadlines for providing the full registration data. Alongside this, the government will engage with industry and other stakeholders to explore whether there are opportunities to reduce the need for industry to replicate existing EU REACH data by placing a greater emphasis on understanding how chemicals are used in GB.

The consultation will take place in 2022 and more details will follow after discussions with stakeholders.

A Defra spokesperson said: “Now we have left the EU, we are able to review our legislation to see whether we can deliver more effective and efficient outcomes for both the environment and businesses.

“We will continue to work closely with industry and other interested stakeholders to understand their concerns and discuss how these might be addressed, while ensuring our high levels of protection of human health and the environment.”

 

This is valid as of 14th December 2021.

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London electric scooter rental trial

In early June, electric scooters (e-scooters) became available to rent in a small number of London boroughs. This is the only way to legally ride an e-scooter on public roads or in other public places in London – and only in those specific boroughs.

The trial aims to help TfL better understand how e-scooters can be used safely in London – and how policy should be developed in the future. We are taking steps to ensure that anyone using a rental e-scooter rides safely and follows the rules of the road as well as guidance from the rental operator. The e-scooter rental trial is part of a wider effort by TfL, London Councils, London boroughs and the UK Government to enable people to use new and greener forms of transport.

Riding e-scooters on pavements will still be banned, but they will generally be able to use the same space as bicycles.

Riders must be 18 or over and have a full or provisional driving licence to rent an e-scooter.

It is still illegal to use privately-owned e-scooters or other powered transporters on public roads.

 

Legislation

Relevant laws on e-scooter use include:

 

The trial

TfL is running the trial with London Councils and the participating London boroughs, plus Canary Wharf. Working together on a single trial means the trial can run consistently across participating boroughs, with safety at its core.

E-scooters are available for hire in the following areas:

Safety information can be found here. https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/e-scooter-safety

Norfolk man guilty of illegal waste operation

A Dereham garage proprietor has admitted to storing waste illegally, despite repeated warnings from the Environment Agency.

Colin Barnes, of CT Barnes Autos admitted storing end of life motor vehicles and car parts illegally.

The end of life motor vehicles were stored with tyres, gear boxes and suspension units at his site in Podmore Lane, Scarning.

Deferring sentence until November 2021, Magistrates warned Barnes that failure to clear the site within the next five months, could mean a prison sentence.

Despite repeated advice from Environment Agency officers on the safe and legal storage of waste, Barnes continued to stockpile scrap vehicles over a 14-month period. In carrying out this illegal operation he caused serious risk to the public and the environment.

Environment Agency prosecutor, Sarah Dunne told the court that Barnes, 64, had been given every opportunity to clear the waste. The Environment Agency had agreed to extend the clearance deadline on four occasions and made significant allowances for the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Environment Agency Officers first visited the site in November 2019. They issued advice on the safe and legal storage of waste and gave Mr Barnes a timescale to clear the site.

Despite this advice, visiting the site on no less than ten occasions and issuing a statutory notice to clear the waste, scrap vehicles and parts remained dangerously and illegally stockpiled on the site.

Many of the vehicles and engines at the site contained fuel, brake and clutch fluid, batteries and tyres with a significant risk of fire and explosion. Site inspections found oils and fuel on the open ground with the risk of contamination to ground and surface water.

Environmental Crime Officer Tom Howard said: “Storing waste illegally meant that Mr Barnes was able to operate at a commercial advantage, undermine legitimate businesses and put the environment at real risk. The Magistrates’ stance sends a powerful message to those prepared to operate an illegal waste business.”

 

This is valid as of 27th May 2021.

Are you prepared for the "ground-breaking" environment act in 2021?

pollution If not, then we can help! We identify some of the key planned environmental changes in 2021 including the following:
  • The Environment Bill: Is this the “ground-breaking” legislation the Government has promised?
  • UK REACH: the new regime for chemicals regulation
  • Carbon law: the return of UK ETS and the growing focus on carbon reporting
  • Air quality, water quality and waste management: a new approach post Brexit?

Companies must review registrations transferred from the UK

All transfers of registrations following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU have now been completed, according to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). More than 8,000 UK-based registrations have been successfully transferred to companies in the EU, EEA or Northern Ireland, it says, adding that these companies must review and, if needed, update the information in these registrations

As the transfers have now been completed, safety information may need to be reviewed and updated, and administrative information, such as the company’s role in the supply chain, may also need to be revised by the new registrant, says the Agency.

If an update is required, registrants have up to three months to update administrative information or up to six, nine or 12 months for more complex updates. These timelines have been clarified in the Commission’s Implementing Regulation on dossier updates. The obligation to update applies to REACH registrations and previously notified substances (NONS) under the Dangerous Substances Directive.

All information in a registration dossier is checked for completeness, whether it is newly submitted or was already previously included in the registration. Since March 2021, ECHA also checks the completeness of the chemical safety reports.

Information on how to update a registration dossier is available on ECHA’s website.

Now that the transfer of all registrations has been completed, 2,964 UK-registrations were not transferred, and are therefore legally void. These are now indicated as ‘revoked’ in ECHA’s database and on ECHA’s website.

 

Background

Under REACH, companies are responsible for collecting information on the properties and uses of the substances they manufacture or import above one tonne a year.

This information is communicated to ECHA through a registration dossier containing the hazard information and, where relevant, an assessment of the potential risks that the use of the substance may pose as well as how these risks should be controlled.

The deadlines that need to be followed have been clarified in the Commission’s Implementing Regulation on dossier updates ((EU)2020/1435).

 

This is valid as of 7th May 2021.

 

Are you prepared for the "ground-breaking" environment act in 2021?

pollution If not, then we can help! We identify some of the key planned environmental changes in 2021 including the following:
  • The Environment Bill: Is this the “ground-breaking” legislation the Government has promised?
  • UK REACH: the new regime for chemicals regulation
  • Carbon law: the return of UK ETS and the growing focus on carbon reporting
  • Air quality, water quality and waste management: a new approach post Brexit?

Arrests made in illegal waste crime investigation

Five individuals have been arrested following an investigation by the Environment Agency into large-scale waste crime activity.

The enforcement action took place at five separate addresses located in Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Investigators from the Environment Agency were supported by police officers from Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Police forces who made the arrests and enabled evidence gathering as part of the investigation into illegal burying of waste at six sites across Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Buckinghamshire.

The investigation will now continue with the evidence seized and is expected to continue for several months.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The Environment Agency takes waste crime extremely seriously and we will persistently pursue those suspected of illegal waste activities.

“Illegal waste activity damages the environment and diverts money from legitimate businesses and at the Environment Agency we do everything we can to bring those responsible to account.”

Sergeant Andy Scruton from the Nuneaton Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “The illegal disposal of waste is a blight on our communities and we will always work hard with our partners in the Environment Agency to tackle it.”

 

This is valid as of 26th April 2021.

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Environment Agency calls on builders to follow duty of care

Mishandled rubbish from building sites can be hugely damaging to public health, communities and the environment, the Environment Agency has warned.

Hazardous chemicals and toxins present in some construction waste, for example asbestos, cannot be taken to waste sites only set up to receive inert waste such as sand and clay.

Over the past year, the EA has taken action against those illegally collecting and dumping significant waste originating from builders. In some cases, workers have been admitted to A and E following the collection of contaminated waste, unscrupulous skip businesses have collected building site waste only to dump it, and career criminals have made millions dealing in waste that they go on to burn or bury.

The Environment Agency is calling on all construction and demolition sites that produce, transport, treat or dispose of waste to fulfil their duty of care.

Malcolm Lythgo, Head of Waste Regulation at the Environment Agency, said: “We have seen many issues arising from builders not checking who they pay to take their site waste away. Failing to deal with construction and demolition waste properly could cause injuries or illness, increase fly-tipping and put your livelihood at risk.

“As England’s waste regulator, the Environment Agency will take action against people who don’t follow their duty of care and so harm people and the environment.

“I would strongly urge all builders to do the right thing and take full responsibility for their waste to limit disruption to the environment as much as possible. You should know who is taking your waste and where it is going.”

Builders have a legal responsibility to ensure they send their site waste to legal waste collectors. Not doing so can result in them facing up to a £50,000 fine.

Mishandling construction waste can often lead to human illness. For instance, in Bournemouth, workers from an inert waste site collecting what they were told was inert waste, but was in fact seriously contaminated, caused them to be sick and rushed to A and E. The Environment Agency served a ‘Stop notice’ on the Bournemouth site while further testing was carried out on the waste.

Unscrupulous people posing as genuine waste collectors can cause serious harm to the environment, taking construction waste and dumping it, leaving it to fester, causing air, ground and water pollution and odour issues.

Construction businesses must use a registered waste carrier to collect, recycle or dispose of their site waste, says the Environment Agency.

 

This is valid as of 9th April 2021.

Are you prepared for the "ground-breaking" environment act in 2021?

pollution If not, then we can help! We identify some of the key planned environmental changes in 2021 including the following:
  • The Environment Bill: Is this the “ground-breaking” legislation the Government has promised?
  • UK REACH: the new regime for chemicals regulation
  • Carbon law: the return of UK ETS and the growing focus on carbon reporting
  • Air quality, water quality and waste management: a new approach post Brexit?