Environmental Law News

Posted on: 4 June 2018

Environmental Law News Update

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, Christopher Badger considers the Mayor of London’s Environment Strategy, publication of CCS guidance from the Environment Agency, and new EU rules to reduce marine litter.

 

London Environment Strategy published

The Mayor of London has published the long-term green strategy for London. It’s a high level document, but the key headlines include:

  • London is to become a zero carbon city by 2050;
  • London’s green spaces are to be analysed using a Natural Capital Account to identify their true economic value;
  • All new buildings are to be zero carbon from 2019;
  • Zero emission zones will be in place by 2020;
  • By 2026 no biodegradable or recyclable waste will be sent to landfill;
  • By 2030 65% of London’s municipal waste will be recycled;
  • London’s entire bus fleet will be zero emission by 2037 at the latest;
  • Expansion of Heathrow airport is to remain opposed.

The proposal for zero emission zones to be in place by 2020 has been brought forward by five years, prompting concerns that business fleets will not have sufficient time to change, although it will be open for business to apply for an exemption during peak times.

The Mayor of London has also published an Implementation Plan which is intended to set London-wide trajectories for quantitative targets. These include:

  • 40% reduction in nitrogen oxides by 2020 compared to a 2013 baseline;
  • Carbon budgets;
  • Local authorities to be set minimum recycling standards in 2020;
  • The setting up of an electric vehicles taskforce to encourage the adoption of electric cars.

The Strategy is not without gaps. For example, no target is set for the implementation of tree and green cover to 2050 as this is described as opportunistic and reliant on the market. Significant increases in recycling performance is also required to meet the ambitions of the plan, another area where the Mayor of London has very limited direct powers and responsibilities. There is also little by way of concrete steps to address ambient noise.

The full Strategy can be found here

 

Environment Agency publishes CCS guidance

The Environment Agency has published guidance to its regulatory officers on how to record non-compliance with environmental permits using the Compliance Classification Scheme (“CCS”).

The Guidance sets out five key principles, on which we have set out a little more information derived from the document

  1. All non-compliances should be recorded, regardless of regime or impact. An indication of categorisation should be given to the operator before the Environment Officer leaves the site.
  2. For amenity conditions relating to odour, dust, noise, pests and litter, non-compliance is categorised based on actual impact. For all other conditions, non-compliance is categorised based on an assessment of what level of impact is reasonably foreseeable, using experience and common sense
  3. Environment Officers must identify the “root cause” of non-compliances. Non-compliance is described as often a symptom of poor management.
  4. Where multiple non-compliances are recorded, the CCS scores can be consolidated. Doing so will remove the potential for an unfair impact on the compliance rating of the facility and avoid having to complete unnecessary paperwork;
  5. CCS scores can be suspended, but only after the non-compliance has previously been identified and the operator is working towards compliance.

The Guidance makes for interesting reading. It is intended to improve consistency in regulation, focus resources on activities that pose the greatest risk to the environment and ensure that subsistence charges reflect the work done by the Environment Agency with operators.

CCS is not used to record any problems at exempt facilities or any other offences that are not a breach of a permit condition.

The Guidance can be found here

 

New EU rules to reduce marine litter

On 28 May the European Commission proposed new EU-wide rules to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. Together these constitute 70% of all marine litter items.

The new rules will introduce:

  • Plastic bans for certain products, including plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons, where alternatives are readily available and affordable;
  • Consumption reduction targets, to require Member States to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups;
  • Obligations for producers, to help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up;
  • An obligation on Member States to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025;
  • Clear and standardised labelling to indicate how waste should be disposed, the negative environmental impact of the product and the presence of plastics;
  • An obligation on Member States to raise consumer awareness of the negative impact of littering of single-use plastics.

Producers of plastic fishing gear will be required to cover the costs of waste collection from port reception facilities and its transport and treatment. They will also cover the costs of awareness-raising measures.

The Commission’s proposals will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption. Both have been urged to deliver tangible results before elections in May 2019.

 

We published May’s Environmental Law Video Newscast last week – a monthly round-up of the latest developments in environmental law.

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