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Pollution breaches undermine water laws

NINE OUT of 10 water pollution control companies are concerned about failures of legislation and enforcement in the water pollution control sector, and 44% of those believe that lack of enforcement by the Environment Agency is damaging the environment, according to a report published last month.

The Environmental Industries Commission document, Remedying the failures of industrial water pollution control, accuses the Environment Agency of failing to implement the UK's water pollution control laws consistently. 'Poor and patchy enforcement and weak emission limits are damaging the environment and public health,' it said.

Many of the companies questioned gave examples where infringement of legislation has occurred with no apparent

action by the regulatory authorities. 'Although legislation is being introduced, many organisations treat these as negotiable. Unless there is a

high profile incident the regulators are not always enforcing the regulations,' one said.

One in five rivers still do not comply with River Quality Objectives laid down by the Government in 1989 when the water industry was privatised. Only 69% of trade effluent discharges comply with their consents, the report claimed.

The environmental industry lobbying group called for EA targets for prosecutions and specific reasons for non-prosecution of offenders in the public domain. Reviews of discharge consent limits after four years were needed if 'Red List' substances were present or where there were problems meeting River Quality Objectives, it

said.

It added that continuous monitoring should replace random sampling and the level of fines for environmental offences should be increased.

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