The programme, launched jointly by the department of environment and the department of trade and industry in 1994, was initially for five years. A consultation paper issued yesterday seeks views on whether to continue the programme beyond 2000 and, if so, in what form. The government is inviting comments on:
- whether there is still a need for reliable, independent advice
on environmental best practice;
industrial processes, product design, or broader economic and
- whether the emphasis should be on incremental or step-change
- how best practice advice should relate to legislative requirements.
Environment minister Michael Meacher said:
'The Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme has made a major contribution in disseminating information to help business reduce its environmental impact and achieve cost savings.
'When the programme was established, many businesses gave little attention to the environment beyond meeting the minimum legislative requirements. This is starting to change as businesses realise the benefits of being clean and efficient. Now, in developing our strategy for improving the sustainable development performance of business, I want to see how Government can help business to contribute further to achieving sustainability objectives.'
Energy and industry minister John Battle added:
'I am pleased that the Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme has helped so many companies to improve their competitiveness through environmental improvement.
'For example, the Helpline has been able to offer advice and information to over 80,000 callers since the start of the programme
and last year over 300 SMEs took advantage of its free on-site counselling service.
'There is clearly scope for a great deal more to be achieved, with benefits for all sectors of industry as well as for the environmental goods and services sector. We now need to decide how best to deploy government support for businesses to achieve further improvements in the most cost-effective way possible.
The Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme is currently scheduled to run until 2000, with a decline in funding thereafter to March 2002.
The programme includes: a Helpline, production of benchmarking guides, case studies, and guidance on good environmental practice, provision of half-day free consultancy, and assistance to waste minimisation clubs.
The Environmental Helpline (0800 58 57 94) was combined with the Energy Best Practice Programme Helpline on 1 December to improve efficiency both for the user and the service provided.
The programme is currently managed on behalf of the DETR/DTI by AEA Technology Environment through their Environmental Technology Support Unit (ETSU) and National Environmental Technology Centre (NETCEN).
Copies of the consultation paper are available from Andrew Field at the DETR on 0171 890 6627 or Douglas Robinson at the DTI on 0171 215 1054. It is also available on the DETR web site: http://www.detr.gov.uk