Construction firms need to clean up their act

Many smaller construction firms are ignorant of their environmental responsibilities, says the Environment Agency Chairman at the launch of an initiative intended to help small and medium-sized businesses working in the construction industry to comply with environmental legislation.

According to research commissioned by the Environment Agency, 74% of smaller construction businesses surveyed did not believe that they carried out activities that could harm the environment. More than 90% of businesses in the construction industry are SMEs. The industry produces 70 million tonnes of waste every year, three times more than all of the UK’s households, and was responsible for more than 700 pollution incidents last year. Agency Chairman Sir John Harman has called on the industry to reduce its pollution figure by 10% by 2005: “a very achievable target,” he said.

NetRegs is a web-based information service, developed in conjunction with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Environment and Heritage Service Northern Ireland (EHS NI). The service was launched last year to help SMEs in all industry sectors to understand and comply with environmental legislation.

The new construction industry section includes guidelines for pre-planning, fencing, site investigation to check for contamination, boring, demolition, excavations, working with concrete and disposing of waste.

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