Regulated businesses will see only minor increase in fees

The Environment Agency has praised its own efficiency measures and risk based approach to regulation as the main reason for charges to regulated businesses being kept so low this year.

The proposed increase to most fees and charges for regulated businesses in England and Wales is 2.5% next year, despite the actual increases in the Agencys costs being 5%.

"Businesses are benefiting directly from the Agency's increasingly efficient, risk based approach to regulation and from savings achieved through streamlining of licensing administration and inspection activities, both of which have contributed to pegging back of increases for the majority," the Agency said.

Increases to charges for 2005/06 for around three quarters of the licences currently in force would be pegged back to 2.5% while major industrial and other sites licensed under the EU pollution and prevention control regime (around 6% of all licences in England and Wales) could expect to increases of 3.5%.

However, some charge areas will see a far bigger increases, such as for transfrontier shipments of waste (where charges have remained unchanged since 1996) and application related charges for Waste Management Licensing. The review recommends an increase in fees to address these shortfalls and recover the full costs of regulation.

The Agencys Barbara Young said: "Most of our charges are going up by less than the retail price index, which is a result of significant efficiency savings made by the Environment Agency. Some charges, however, will have to increase substantially if we are to recover the full cost of the work we, as regulators, must do to ensure the environment and public health are protected."

By David Hopkins



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