Effluent wastewater treatment: the cost of non-compliance set to rise

Effluent wastewater treatment: the cost of non-compliance set to rise.

Effective effluent wastewater treatment will soon be more vital than ever, with the Environment Agency being given greater powers to impose sanctions on businesses that commit environmental offences…

Increased civil sanctions and expanded regulations

Following a consultation earlier this year by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’, the Environment Agency’s environmental civil sanctions are being strengthened.

The Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) Order 2010 is being amended to allow unlimited variable monetary penalties, removing the current £250,000 cap.

The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 is also being extended to introduce unlimited variable monetary penalties as a civil sanction, significantly broaden Environment Agency’s scope to target a wider range of environmental offences.

These new enforcement powers will allow the Environment Agency to apply penalties that are quicker and easier to enforce instead of lengthy and costly criminal prosecutions. However, the most serious cases will continue to be taken through criminal proceedings.

How the changes may affect your business

Expanding variable monetary penalties to the Environmental Permitting Regulations means the Environment Agency can enforce compliance across a wider range of sectors, including:

  • manufacturing
  • power generation and other combustion processes
  • storage, treatment, use and disposal of waste, including scrap metal
  • discharges to surface water and groundwater
  • radioactive substances
  • activities using solvents
  • mining and extractive industries

As a result, if your business is regulated under an Environmental Permit you could soon be liable for an unlimited fine if you commit an environmental offence.

Andy Dargue, wastewater effluent wastewater treatment specialist and founder of Aqua Advice, says:

“The only way to avoid fines is to comply with consent to discharge. As these tighten up it becomes more difficult to ensure compliance. Aqua Advice can help with improving/ensuring compliance with improved monitoring, improved effluent plants, changes to effluent process and control.”

The new regulations come into force

New regulations came into force on 1 December, following a consultation to consider how the Environment Agency implements the changes.

Not only has the cap of £250,000 been removed, but the Environment Agency can now impose variable money sanctions for offences under the environmental permitting regime. 

We expect to see the EA making use of its new powers during 2024.

This change in regulations will no doubt see the water authorities increase activity and enforcement with industry.

Future-proof your business against effluent wastewater treatment non-compliance and costly fines

Contact Aqua Advice today to optimise your effluent wastewater treatment system.

*this article was updated in March 2024 to reflect the outcome of the consultation ‘Extending civil sanction variable monetary penalty powers’ (Aug-Oct 2023)