Environmental Protection Act Overview

The Environmental Protection Act or EPA, is an Act that defines how the UK manages emissions that get into the environment as well as the appropriate steps for proper Waste Management. There are six sections in the law, each covering specific function and areas.

Part I
Part I details how the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs assigns limits with regards to emission transmission in the environment. Since 1996, this has been the responsibility of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Environment Agency (EA).

Part II
This covers the licencing and regulations concerning land waste disposal. As stated in the Act, the National Waste Strategy is responsible for gathering waste and recycling them. Part II also imposes penalties on those who violate the regulations inscribed in the Act Part III, IV and V.

Part III is concerned with the definition of statutory nuisances by which local authorities might ask for remedial steps, while part IV defines littering offences. Part V consists of the Radioactive Substances amendment.

Part VI and VII
Part VI of the EPA covers GMO (genetically modified organisms) risk assessments and statutory notification. This section of the Act also details the duties related to acquisition, importing, marketing and releasing of GMO’s. Under the provisions enacted in this Act, the Secretary of State has the authority to stop GMO’s if they have ill effects on the environment.

Part VII of the EPA contains information on the creation of three groups dedicated to preserving the environment, the Countryside Council for Wales, the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland and the Nature Conservancy Council for England.

Since the enactment of this law, the Scottish and English councils have undergone numerous revisions, and they are no longer under the auspices of the Act, although the Welsh council is.

The EPA sets down the laws concerning environmental protection as well as the penalties for not following the prescribed regulations. As indicated in the Act, the processes are subject to the SEPA or the EPA or by the local authorities but only so far as atmospheric pollution is concerned.

Under the provisions inscribed in the EPA, the recognised authority has the power to serve a prohibition or enforcement notice if an operator is found to be noncompliant. There are several fines and violations that may be imposed, although the penalty will depend on the gravity of the offence.
The EPA allows a noncompliant operator to appeal the decision and question the authorisation, prohibition, enforcement and other aspects to the State Secretary. If it is determined that the complaint has some merit, the Secretary of State will hold a hearing.

The law also requires that all authorities provide the appropriate data. As stated in the EPA, its purpose is to ensure that the UK’s pollution controls are fortified and provide the necessary support to implement the penalties. Prior to this Act, the UK had separate laws governing pollution in the land, sea and air. With the EPA, all of them have been integrated.

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