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The Environment Agency Tells Businesses Not to Waver
With many experts suggesting that depression and recession are looming, some might suggest that environmental policy should not be top of the agenda for businesses tackling the credit crunch.
The Environment Agency makes no such suggestions.
In fact, after the publication of its 'Spotlight on Business' report, it is urging exactly the opposite; that - despite troubled economic times - businesses should not falter in their commitment to the environment.
The warnings were made on the back of what makes impressive reading on the improvement of environmental issues in the business sector. This, the 'Spotlight on Business' report shows:
"Industry sectors that have reported to us since 1998 have:
1) Improved air quality by cutting sulphur oxides (SOx) by 69 per cent, fine particles (PM10) by 53 per cent, nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 12 per cent.
2) Reduced waste by 14 per cent.
3) Cut the number of serious pollution incidents by almost half from 884 to 462 since 2000."
The report cites some substantial cutbacks, and details the success of its fines and risk assesment system:
"As a result of Environment Agency prosecutions the courts handed out £3 million in fines as well as almost 8 years behind bars and more than 170 days of community service.
Businesses have benefited from our risk-based approach to regulation and we will continue to work closely with them in the future to build on these successes."
But the Environmental Agency - despite the improvements - does not believe that economic slowdown should be used as an excuse for a slowdown in environmental reform. It believes that business should operate on the same legislature, with the same level of commitment.
Indeed many of the Environmental Agency's supporters link good environmental policy with a strong economy; it is believed that long term stability can be guaranteed with the introduction of sustainable and renewable energy, which cost less to run and maintain than the current fossil fuel systems.
This is also the thinking behind the newly proposed 'Green New Deal', which will look to tackle economic recession with the creation of jobs in a new, vastly expanded 'green collar worker' jobs sector.
The plan proposes that a vast environmental reform program, developing a wealth of new sustainable energy plants, and investing in Green Building, could create numerous jobs for the unemployed, alleviating a burden on the economy.
Certainly, the Envrionmental Agency has no plans for relaxing its legislation regarding businesses. In the report, they outline their thoughts for the future :
"1) We are now seeing the impacts of climate change and must adapt to it as well as trying to mitigate the causes. Using resources like water and energy more efficiently, and minimising waste are just three ways we can do this.
2) Much has been done to limit point source pollution. We need to continue this work as well as tackling diffuse pollution. There are still too many hazardous chemicals in the environment, and damage is still being caused by nutrients coming from products like detergents and fertilisers."
Perhaps most importantly, though, is their message to those in the business sector who continue to ignore environmental legislature:
"We need to tackle non-compliance and the companies that deliberately break the law to make a quick profit. They harm the environment, threaten people's health, and damage the reputation of legitimate industry".
What the Environmental Agency makes clear, then, is that - even with economic recession - envrionmental policy must always remain central to business.
Companies looking for a break better start looking elsewhere.
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