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EA’s RPEG: Strong regulation helping to protect environment

Fines totalling £105 million brought about by Environment Agency prosecutions in 2021


Fines totalling £105 million brought about by Environment Agency prosecutions in 2021 f

A new report, published on 1 November, reveals that environmental regulation is helping businesses to protect the environment and tackle the climate crisis.

Some 97% of industrial sites overseen by the Environment Agency are in the top compliance bands when it comes to protecting the environment, based on a five-year moving average, helping to ensure our air, land, and water is protected from harm.

The data is revealed in the EA’s Regulating for People, Environment and Growth report (RPEG) 2021, which shows improving trends in environmental compliance.

Since 2010, there has been a 72% decrease in NOx emissions, and a 90% decrease in SOx emissions, from sites the EA regulates. There has also been a 50% decrease in emissions of greenhouse gases from sites the EA regulates during the same period.

Last year, the Environment Agency’s regulation led to the closure of 561 illegal waste sites and uncovered 445 new sites. It also ensured a nine million tonne reduction of CO2 compared to 2020 through the climate change emissions trading and energy efficiency schemes it manages.

The report comes as Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, delivered a speech on the future of regulation to the Whitehall and Industry Group on 1 November. He said:

“Good regulation is essential for most of the things we all want. The report we are launching today (1 November), Regulating for People, the Environment and Growth sets out what the EA does to support those things.

But no regulatory system is perfect, including ours. Brexit is a massive opportunity to rethink how we do regulation in this country. The government has embarked on that process, and we welcome the debate.”

The RPEG report, comprising data from regulatory activities in 2021, also reveals:

  • Fines totalling £105 million were issued by the courts as a result of over 100 environmental prosecution cases brought by the EA in 2021
  • Environmental groups have received £15 million over the past five years as a result of enforcement undertakings accepted by the EA
  • Last year, we saw a reduction in CO2 of 9 million tonnes compared to 2020

With regard to waste crime, Sir James said:

“I have called waste crime “the new narcotics”: it harms people, places and the economy, including by undercutting the legitimate waste industry. Our regulation of the sector ensures waste is managed safely, and our fight against the criminals helps the economy: every £1 we spend on it brings at least £4 of benefit to the economy. The right regulation helps deliver growth.”

The Environment Agency’s vision of promoting green growth and a sustainable future is a key strand of the EA’s five-year action plan, entitled ‘EA2025’.


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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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