Environment Agency

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The Environment Agency (Welsh: Asiantaeth yr Amgylchedd) of England and Wales was created by the Environment Act 1995, and came into existence on April 1 1996 along with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. It took over the roles and responsibilities of the National Rivers Authority, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP) and the waste regulation authorities in England and Wales including the London Waste Regulation Authority. All of the predecessor bodies were disbanded and the local authorities relinquished their waste regulatory role.


[edit] Goals

The stated mission of the newly created agency was "to protect or enhance the environment, taken as a whole" so as to promote "the objective of achieving sustainable development" (taken from the Environment Act 1995, section 4).

[edit] Responsibilities

[edit] Flood risk management

The agency is the main body responsible for creating and maintaining flood defences and providing flood warning systems. Control of water levels is usually by systems of sluices, weirs and locks. The agency issues regular flood warnings and maintains maps of areas liable to flooding. Functions in relations to canals are undertaken by the British Waterways Board

[edit] Waste regulation

The agency is the regulatory authority for all waste management activities including the licensing of sites such as landfill and incineration facilities. It also grants licenses for handling special waste such as radioactive, chemical or medical materials. The Agency monitors waste management sites and any individuals or companies found to have caused pollution or have infringed their licence conditions can be prosecuted and potentially have waste handling licenses revoked by the Courts.

[edit] Pollution control

Under the provisions of a series of Acts of Parliament, the Agency is the main regulator of discharges to the aquatic environment, to air and to land. It does this through the issue of formal consents to discharge or, in the case of large, complex or potentially damaging industries by means of a permit. Failure to comply with such a consent or permit or making a discharge without the benefit of a consent can lead to criminal prosecution. Under recent legislation changes enforcement action regarding a pollution event can, through the Magistrates courts system, result in a fine of up to £50,000 or 5 years imprisonment, or unlimited fines and up to 5 years imprisonment through the Crown courts.

[edit] Air quality management

The Agency regulates the release of air pollutants into the atmosphere from large, complex industrial processes. This will soon include emissions from some large-scale agricultural activities, but air pollutant releases from many agricultural activities will continue to be unregulated. <ref>The air quality section of the Environment Agency's web site</ref>

Emissions from major sources of pollution, such as transport, are subject to various measures at the European, national and local level. Local authorities control air pollution from smaller industrial processes.

The Agency works with local authorities, the Highways Agency and others to implement the UK government’s air quality strategy in England and Wales as mandated in the Environment Act 1995.

[edit] The Air Quality Modelling and Assessment Unit (AQMAU)

The Air Quality Modelling and Assessment Unit (AQMAU) is the Agency’s national focus of expertise on air quality modelling and assessment, providing both leadership and operational support. The AQMAU’s role is to ensure that air quality assessments for permit applications, enforcement and air pollution incident investigations are consistent, of a high standard and based on sound science. <ref>The AQMAU section of the Environment Agency's web site</ref>

The AQMAU developed and issued the publication Air Dispersion Modelling Report Requirements. It is a concise guide to the structure of a dispersion modelling study and includes recommendations that the AQMAU considers to be good practice.

Some of the topics covered in the projects undertaken by the AQMAU are:

  • Propagation of uncertainties in dispersion modelling<ref>Error Propagation in Air Dispersion Modeling</ref>
  • Protocol for model inter-comparisons
  • Dispersion modelling for odour prediction
  • Representativity of meteorological data used in dispersion modelling

The AQMAU is located in the Cardiff office of Environment Agency Wales.

[edit] Water quality management

The Agency has a duty to maintain and improve the quality of surface and ground waters and as part of the duty it monitors the quality of rivers, lakes, the sea and ground-water on a regular basis.

[edit] Water resource management

The Agency manages the use and conservation of water through the issue of water abstraction licences for activities such as drinking water supply, artificial irrigation and hydro-electricity generation.

Complex arrangements exist for the management of river regulation reservoirs, which are used to store winter water in the wetter parts of England and Wales in order to maintain levels in the summer time so that there is sufficient water to supply the drier parts of the country with drinking water.

[edit] Navigation

Image:EnvironmentAgencyGodstowLock20050326 CopyrightKaihsuTai.jpg
The Environment Agency operates numerous locks.

Licenses for boats travelling on some inland waterways (notably River Thames) are issued by the Agency as is permission to take (abstract) and discharge water.

[edit] Fisheries

The Agency is the body responsible for maintaining and improving the quality of fisheries in England and Wales. It does this through pro-active work to improve the habitat for fisheries and by managing angling and commercial exploitation of shell-fish through the issue of licences.

[edit] Income

The agency is funded in part from the UK government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Welsh Assembly Government. Additional money is raised from the issuing of licences and permits such as abstraction licences, waste handling licences, navigation rights and fishing licences and from licensing data for which the Agency is owner.

Money for maintenance and improvement of flood defences has traditionally come from the local authorities in the areas being defended but central Government is now playing a larger role in funding this area of work.

[edit] Organisational management

The Environment Agency is overseen by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (currently David Miliband), but has its own chairman, chief executive and board of directors.


Chief executives:

[edit] Regions and areas

The Environment Agency consists of seven English regions and Environment Agency Wales. These are sub-divided in areas.

  • Anglian Region
    • Central Area
    • Eastern Area
    • Northern Area
  • Midlands Region
    • Lower Severn Area
    • Lower Trent Area
    • Upper Severn Area
    • Upper Trent Area
  • North East Region
    • Dales Area
    • Northumbria Area
    • Ridings Area
  • North West Region
    • Central Area
    • North Area
    • South Area
  • South West Region
    • Devon & Cornwall Area
    • Wessex Area
  • Southern Region
    • Hampshire and Isle of Wight Area
    • Kent Area
    • Sussex Area
  • Thames Region
    • North East Area
    • South East Area
    • West Area
  • Environment Agency Wales
    • Northern Area
    • South East Area
    • South West Area

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] External links

[edit] Related acts of parliament

Environment Agency

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