Environmental Protection Act 

Posted on: 20 June 2018

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) brings together the system of integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) for raw material usage, waste avoidance (or minimisation), energy efficiency and the disposal of wastes to land, water and air.

Pollution of the environment, as defined by the EPA, is the release of any substances into air, water or land as a result of any process which causes harm to people or damage to any property; The term ‘process’ is defined as any activity that is capable of causing pollution.

There are regional differences between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and different enforcing authorities, for example, the Environment Agency (EA) in England, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in Wales and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).  

Some activities and offences are also regulated by the relevant local authority.

The EPA is divided into the following sections:

  • I. Prescribed process for the IPPC and the necessary powers for enforcing authorities.
  • II. Controlled waste disposal on land

    • IIa. Contaminated land
  • III. Statutory nuisances
  • IV. Litter
  • V. Amendment of the Radioactive Substances Act 1960 (replaced by later legislation)
  • VI. Genetically modified organisms 

All businesses are obliged to work within a framework of Acts and Regulations for environmental issues some of which may be sector or process specific. Business owners and managers need to be aware of these environmental duties and responsibilities and determine which environmental laws apply to their activities and to take the appropriate actions, such as approaching the relevant authority for licences and permits.

The main parts of the Act that businesses should take heed of are as follows:

When considering this topic you may be interested in the following legislation, in addition to the EPA: