The initial contract is for two years with a possibility to extend it to five years. The Environment Agency – with help from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) – was responsible for setting up the contract. Government bodies can use the contract to obtain specific advice and expertise to help them set up their own environmental management systems (EMS).

The Environment Agency’s advert for the contract in the Official Journal of the European Commission drew 110 expressions of which 60 firms returned completed questionnaires. From these, 8 consultants were invited to bid using a detailed quality and cost analysis. Of these, environmental consultants ENTEC and consulting engineers WS Atkins were selected following a series of interviews in February.

The UK Government views EMS as an important driver for achieving environmental improvement and for encouraging staff skills and motivation. It has accepted the Environmental Audit Committee’s recommendation that all UK Government Departments should have begun introducing EMS by the end of the current Parliament.

The UK Government says it is also sympathetic to the recommendation that 75% of Departments should have at least one site registered to ISO 14001 by 2001. It has also set up a new Public Sector Helpdesk (PuSH) for promoting EMS within central Government.

The introduction of EMS to Government bodies is intended to encourage more organizations in the public and private sector to consider introducing them.

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