EA ‘Hall of Shame’ takes the offensive against corporate polluters

The Environment Agency (EA) has taken fresh action to reinforce its message that it will not hesitate to prosecute if businesses don't act responsibly to prevent damage to the environment.

Publishing its first annual ‘Hall of Shame’ – a list of businesses who received the largest fines in 1998 – the EA also took the opportunity to highlight the inadequacy of the fines which back up these powers.

Companies in six sectors – industry, waste, construction, transport, water industry and wholesale/distribution – were ‘named and shamed’ based on the level of fines received during 1998.

The top ten polluters were ICI (£382,500), Tyseley Waste Disposal, London Waste Ltd (£95,000), Wessex Water Ltd (£36,500), Alco Waste Manage-ment (£30,000), Anglian Water Services Ltd (£24,250), EOM Construction Ltd (£21,000), Shell (UK) Ltd and BNFL (both at £20,000), European Vinyls Corporation Ltd (£18,000), Balfour Beatty Ltd and North West Water (both at £15,500).

“Businesses must understand they have a responsibility to protect the environment and need to be held to account,” said EA director of operations, Archie Robertson. “The companies included in our Hall of Shame have let down the public, the environment and their own industry.”

Agency chief executive Ed Gallagher says while it is reassuring to see the legal system can bring environmental offenders to justice, he remains concerned about the size of the fines being imposed by the Courts.

“Tough action by the Environment Agency in the field needs to be matched by tougher penalties being imposed by the Courts,” he said. “The average fine for a prosecution last year was £2,786. Clearly this is not sending out a strong enough message to deter large businesses that have the potential to seriously damage the environment.”

Welcoming the fines league tables, Environment Minister Michael Meacher said, “I want the Agency to be not only a firm regulator but also an open one. This step is part of a programme to improve public access to environmental information.” He said the Courts have shown signs that they are beginning to reflect society’s major concerns in the fines they impose, but there is still a long way to go.

This month, the EA will also publish its review of the level of emissions from industrial processes in 1998.

Main industrial offenders

  • ICI, £382,500
  • Shell (UK) Ltd, £20,000
  • BNFL, £20,000
  • European Vinyls Corporation, £18,000
  • MP Burke plc £12,500
  • SCA Packaging Ltd, £12,000
  • Pershore Poultry Ltd, £10,000
  • Marlow Foods Ltd, £10,000
  • HP Foods, £10,000
  • Eastman Chemical Ectona Ltd, £10,000
  • Albright & Wilson, £10,000

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