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AIR POLLUTION CONTROLS AIM FOR THE BULL'S EYE

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Local councils will be able to focus more on potential air pollution ...
Local councils will be able to focus more on potential air pollution

troublespots thanks to new consultation proposals announced today by

environment minister Michael Meacher.

Local authorities may in future be able to use risk-based assessments

to decide how much time and effort they need to devote to individual

air polluting factories.

These assessments will be coupled with a safety-net minimum

inspection frequency of one full inspection a year for the lowest

risk sites.

A number of different risk assessment methods were devised by the

consultants behind the report being published. The favoured method

has now been trialled and has the potential to achieve:

- a reduced burden on local authorities, enabling more effective

delivery of their obligations under the best value regime, without

loss of environmental protection;

- reduced regulatory burden on business through targeting of

resources to those which pose most of a risk (whilst retaining proper

environmental regulation), without loss of environmental protection;

- an incentive for improved environmental performance;

- improved transparency and value for money for regulated

businesses, since regulatory effort and fees would better reflect the

risk to air pollution posed by individual processes or process

categories;

- improved consistency in regulation.

In launching a three-month consultation on the report, Mr Meacher

said:

'I am enthusiastic about finding ways to make regulation more

targeted; consistent with proper environmental protection.

'This report suggests that this can be achieved for the Local Air

Pollution Control system through a risk-based approach. It is

important, however, that low-risk cases do not escape regulation as a

result of such an approach. To accompany the report, therefore, we

have drawn up draft new guidance on minimum inspection frequencies.

'This is an important initiative and I hope there will be a good

response to the consultation.'

Notes

Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 established the Local

Air Pollution Control (LAPC) system. Under LAPC local authorities

regulate air pollution from some 18,000 industrial processes. LAPC

will gradually be superseded by two new local-authority regulated

regimes under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999.

Risk & Policy Analysts (RPA) were commissioned in 2000 to look at

alternative methodologies for introducing a risk-based regulatory

approach to LAPC. They examined four options and recommended one.

This scored individual processes on a range of criteria covering

environmental impact and operator performance, arriving at a

categorisation (in terms of regulatory effort) of high, medium or

low. The former DETR consulted on their report, a copy of which is

now here .

There was general support for further evaluation of the recommended

methodology.

A report on the trials, covering letter and the accompanying draft

guidance on inspection frequency can be found here .

RPA undertook the evaluation by means of trials with 14 local

authorities. A total of 173 processes were covered by the trials.

Process operators were involved, and trade associations were given

the opportunity to comment. RPA recommend that the methodology has

the potential outlined in the main body of this press notice, and

that the methodology be adopted but with a number of detailed

modifications.

Comments on the report and draft guidance should be sent to

khaleda.khatun@defra.gsi.gov.uk by Friday 2 August 2002, or mailed to

Khaleda Khatun, DEFRA, 4/G10 Ashdown House, 123 Victoria Street,

London SW1E 6DE.

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