NetRegs, designed by the Environment Agency, has been running as a pilot project since 1999, to assist the managers of small and medium-sized businesses in England and Wales to fulfil their environmental responsibilities, and to remove barriers to compliance. The facility will now be further developed in co-operation with the Department of Trade and Industry’s Small Business Service. “Surveys show that most small businesses are likely to be the least aware of their environmental responsibilities and are apprehensive about contacting regulators for advice,” said the Environment Agency’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Advisor Tim Fanshawe. “Furthermore, many do not have the time or resources to wade through long and complicated lists of legislation.”

The development process for NetRegs included discussions with businesses, trade associations, and business support organisations, explained Fanshawe. User-friendly guidelines specific for 19 sectors are included on the website, as is information on regulators, a glossary and information on legislation, and the site can even be used to help companies achieve ISO 14001 standards.

The service is interactive, with visitors registering their email address, which allows them to be kept informed whenever NetRegs is updated. Users of the website will also be asked for feedback on the quality and relevance of information, and on the use of the internet as a communication tool.

Placing environmental concerns at the heart of everyone’s thinking is part of the Environment Agency’s vision for the future, explained Agency Chairman Sir John Harman. “The most important message we can send to businesses is that environmental management is a fundamental part of business efficiency.”

“NetRegs will be central to helping smaller businesses take control of what they should be doing and getting them on the road to being more efficient in their daily operations and thus more effective in protecting the environment,” Harman added.

Businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland wishing for similar advice and information need to contact the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Environment and Heritage Service of Northern Ireland (EHSNI) respectively.

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