Key target areas will initially be targeted, such as the south East due to the scale of construction work taking place over the next couple of years in the Thames Gateway and East Anglia, and the South west for agricultural pollution.

The two sectors have been targeted after being identified as having significant environmental impact at all scales of operation, particularly as the source of high numbers of pollution incidents, and as sectors characterised by high numbers of SMEs.

Around 55% of all construction and demolition work in England and Wales is carried out by firms employing fewer than 114 people and there are some 180,000 small construction and demolition firms in England and Wales. Between 130,000 and 160,000 farms are classified as small businesses.

An Environment Agency survey in 2003 showed that the UK s 3.7million strong SME sector was responsible for 60% of all commercial and industrial waste generated and that 70 – 75% of SMEs were not aware of their environmental obligations. Inidvidually, the impact of an SME may not be too huge, but the cumulative effect of their actions can be very significant.

By David Hopkins

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