Briefing note: Environment Agency approach to ‘Risk’

Briefing note – June 2017

The way in which environment permits for regulated industries in England are evaluated and charged is be overhauled. The Environment Agency (EA) says that these changes will give it an opportunity to take a holistic view of operator performance as opposed to the current OPRA system which mostly just measures the hazards of a particular site. Detailed facts, figures and proposed changes are yet to be revealed as yet but the general principles are as follows. This new approach will move from just compliance monitoring to full performance-based regulations.

Performance-based regulations

One element of this will be to increase the use of self-assurance and earned recognition schemes.

 The move away from OPRA

The current A-F system of compliance scoring will be replaced by four descriptive bands:

  • Exemplary –  for sites that voluntarily go beyond basic compliance and will include a form of regulated self-assurance probably as part of a third-party scheme. Such sites can expect lighter touch regulation and pay lower fees.
  • Expected –  the ‘expected’ label will be given to sites meeting basic compliance obligations. There will be a measure of enforcement tolerance for those achieving this status.
  • Improvement needed – this category can expect levels of enforcement much as at present
  • Significant improvement needed -this category can also expect levels of enforcement much as at present

Encouragingly, the proposed system is similar to that being introduced by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency but in Wales the existing charging scheme will continue for now.

The proposed system can be accessed via ENDS environmental intelligence here (free subscription).