Climate Action

Environment Agency report finds increase in number of serious pollution incidents over last year

A new report released by the Environment Agency has found that there has been a rise in the number of serious pollution incidents over the last year.

  • 29 October 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

A new report released by the Environment Agency has found that there has been a rise in the number of serious pollution incidents over the last year.

The report found that in 2018, there were 533 serious pollution incidents, 14% fewer than 10 years ago, but 27% higher than 2017.

Less than half the incidents in 2018 were caused by industries that the Environment Agency regulate, in response they said “to reduce serious incidents there has to be vigilance and action from all businesses”.

In addition to this, the report also found that 896 new illegal waste sites were discovered last year.

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive at the Environment Agency, noted the importance of change. He said in the report’s foreword: “We have to make greater strides in tackling environmental crime, improving the quality of our rivers and reducing serious pollution incidents further.”

The Environment Agency has also warned that although the majority of England’s regulated businesses are working to protect the environment and support prosperity, businesses need to act fast to save the climate.

Gillian Pratt, Deputy Director at the Environment Agency, said: “Our regulation is supporting a healthier environment and safer communities. The majority of businesses we regulate are well run. But all businesses must make improvements to ensure their operations help protect the environment and local communities.”

Despite the rise in pollution and illegal waste, the report also focused on the improvements over the last year. The report highlighted that greenhouse gas emissions from industry have been cut by half in the last ten years and compliance rates of energy efficiency trading schemes are above 98%.

It also shows 92% of operator’s demonstrated good compliance with their environmental permit conditions. A record 72% of the waste produced by activities with permits was recovered, and high levels of bathing water quality have been maintained.

Earlier this month, the Environment Agency committed to becoming net zero by 2030, ensuring that its own activities and its supply chain are taking as much carbon out of the atmosphere as it is putting into it.

Read the Environment Agency’s report in full here.

Photograph: Steve Woodhead