New controls on discharges of dangerous substances into surface waters

The Environment Agency (EA) has launched a consultation to investigate views on a proposed consenting policy for discharges of dangerous substances into surface waters.


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According to the EA, its current consenting policy for discharges of substances covered by the European Commission’s Dangerous Substances Directive does not fully meet the legal requirements. While the policy already includes all significant discharge consents, says the EA, it does not cover quantities of dangerous substances which pose no threat to the water environment. The situation will be remedied with the new consenting policy.

“The Environment Agency is reviewing its current consenting policy for discharges containing dangerous substances in order to fully deliver the obligations imposed by the Dangerous Substances Directive,” said Martin Griffiths, Environment Agency Head of Water Quality. “The proposed consenting policy adopts the principle that the larger the risk to the environment, the closer the degree of Agency regulatory involvement. In this way we hope to place a fair and balanced degree of responsibility upon the consent holder. The agency is also considering the implementation of this Directive through the IPC [Integrated Pollution Control] and IPPC [Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control] (see related story) permitting regimes.”

The EA would like comments on the implications for those discharging substances into waterways, and will be examining issues such as:

  • the identification of discharges which are likely to contain substances;
  • the proposed control strategies;
  • reliance on some consent holders to increase the amount of monitoring they undertake;
  • the overall cost to dischargers of the proposed policy.

“The Agency has also looked into the economic implications of the proposed policy on consent holders – reviewing the business impacts, as well as the resource and financial implications of the policy,” said Griffiths.

Opinions should be aired by 30 November 2000, and copies of the consultation document are available on the EA website, or from Isobel Austin, Environment Agency Ecotoxicology and Hazardous Substances National Centre, Evenlode House, Howbery Park, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 8BD, or at dangerous.substances@environment-agency.gov.uk.

The EA plans to implement the policy gradually, starting from April 2001.

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