The Queen's Speech: Environment: 'One-stop' agencies to be created for protection

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT is to start work on creating two environmental protection agencies, one for England and Wales, and one for Scotland, writes Nicholas Schoon.

Short 'paving' Bills to allow the Government to start setting them up will be brought before Parliament. Once enacted, money can be spent on preparation, and shadow management boards appointed.

The agencies were promised in the Conservative manifesto. They will have wide-ranging powers and be responsible for licensing polluters of air, water and soil, monitoring the state of the environment and prosecuting offenders. They will also regulate the dumping of solid waste.

Further legislation, expected in the Queen's Speech next November, is needed to allow the new agencies to start work. They should be in operation by the end of 1995.

The Government says it wants them to provide a 'one-stop shop' for the environmental regulation of businesses and that single agencies would do a better job of securing the best all-round environmental protection than today's multitude of organisations.

In England and Wales, several types of local councils control waste dumping and some air pollution while the National Rivers Authority is responsible for protecting rivers, underground water supplies and nearshore waters. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution regulates all polluting activities of large industry. The Scottish situation is similarly complex.

The English and Welsh agency is likely to have at least 6,000 staff, mostly taken from these bodies, and a budget running into pounds 100m.

For Northern Ireland, the Government said recently that it will not be introducing a modern system of integrated pollution control.