Environmental Regulators

The Environment Act 1995 established the Environment Agency (EA) as the environmental regulator for England and Wales and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) as the environmental regulator for Scotland.

The Natural Resources Body for Wales (Establishment) Order 2012 established National Resources Wales (NRW) as the environmental regulator for Wales, replacing the EA. 

Managing environmental impact can bring various business benefits such as increased efficiency, reduced expenses, enhanced business reputation and customer loyalty.

In Northern Ireland, the environmental regulator is the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), which is an Executive Agency within the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

What are the key environmental regulations?

General regulations

  • The Environmental Protection Act 1990 applies in England, Wales and Scotland. The Act places a duty on business operators to ensure that waste produced by their business is properly and safely disposed of. See BIF060, A Guide to the Environmental Protection Act 1990, for more information.

  • The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 require business operators who carry out potentially polluting activities to hold an environmental permit or registered exemption issued by their appropriate national environmental regulator. Activities governed by the Regulations are those that pose a risk to the environment and public health. Examples include running a dry cleaning service or a car body shop, as both activities involve using airborne pollutants, such as spray paints, containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can damage the ozone layer.

  • The Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations (England) 2015, the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (Wales) Regulations 2009, the Environmental Liability (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and the Environmental Liability (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 empower environmental regulators to issue prevention notices to business operators who are at risk of damaging the natural environment. The regulations also enable regulators to force business operators to remedy environmental damage caused by their activities.
Download our full guide, which contains information about air and water quality regulations, waste handling and disposal regulations and how to comply with these, as well as a detailed list of useful contacts for all environmental issues.