Last reviewed 5 November 2019

A new report has found that while the majority of England’s regulated businesses demonstrate good compliance with their environmental permit conditions, more work is needed to reduce serious pollution incidents and illegal waste activity.

The Environment Agency's report reveals that greenhouse gas emissions from industry have been cut by half in the last 10 years and compliance rates of energy efficiency and emissions trading schemes are above 98%.

It also shows 92% of operators demonstrated good compliance with their environmental permit conditions and a record 72% of the waste produced by activities with permits was recovered.

In particular:

  • since 2008, EA regulated businesses have reduced emissions of sulphur oxides by 81%, nitrogen oxides by 65%, PM10 (small particulates) by 37%

  • the amount of waste going to landfill decreased by 45% between the financial year 2000 to 2001 and the calendar year 2018, and by 18% since 2008

  • in 2018 the EA dealt with 16,454 incidents. Of these, 533 were serious pollution incidents (category 1 and 2), 27% more than in 2017.

Serious pollution incidents increased in most sectors in 2018 compared with 2017. Incidents from non-permitted and permitted activities increased by 44% and 29% respectively.

Increased incidents from illegal waste activities account for another quarter of the increase.

Commenting, Gillian Pratt, Deputy Director at the Environment Agency, said: “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.”

In 2018, the prosecutions brought by the EA resulted in almost £2.8 million in fines for environmental offences.