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New environmental regulations needn't be costly

17th February 2009

In the current economic climate it is essential businesses are prepared for new regulations, as failure to comply could lead to increased costs.

NetRegs (www.netregs.gov.uk) is a free UK website offering environmental guidance for businesses and is delivered in partnership with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). The guidance provided could make life easier for Scottish businesses.

Following consultation on the Environmental Liability Directive, the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (Scotland) Regulations will come into force in 2009. The regulations aim to ensure that action is taken to put damage right as opposed to simply penalising those responsible.

Based on the 'polluter pays principle' the new legislation requires businesses to report, and take responsibility for, any environmental damage to land, water or biodiversity caused by their activities. The regulations encourage businesses to proactively manage relevant risks effectively, including appropriate pollution prevention measures.

Any business causing environmental damage will be responsible for rectifying that damage. A recent NetRegs survey showed that 52% of Scottish Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) said they undertook at least one of a list of potentially harmful activities*, so businesses could be facing unexpected costs.

Gillian Bruce, NetRegs board member for SEPA explains: "The survey shows that many small businesses still don't understand their basic environmental obligations. We want to respond to their growing concerns, help them protect the environment and avoid fines.

"Many SMEs wrongly presume that assessing their environmental impact will be expensive in time and money. In fact, small businesses can often save money by using resources more efficiently and reducing waste. In today's economic climate, businesses simply can't afford to let crucial new regulations go unheeded."

Environmental consultant EFTEC estimates that UK SMEs save at least 58 million a year by using NetRegs.gov.uk to improve their environmental compliance and practices. Each SME that registers for free regular update emails saves on average 2,615 per year by reducing time spent understanding what legislation means for them and benefiting from advice on compliance.

SME subscribers can register for free email updates to inform them of regulations well before they come into effect - ensuring businesses understand how changing laws apply to them. Log on to:
www.environment-agency.gov.uk/netregs/legislation/future/63682.aspx

 

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