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Last edited 11 Feb 2022
The Environment Agency is an executive non-departmental public body (NDPB). It was created by the Environment Act 1995, and came into existence on 1 April 1996 when it took over the roles and responsibilities of the National Rivers Authority, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution, the waste regulation authorities and responsibility for issuing flood warnings to the public.
It was established to protect and improve the environment and to contribute to sustainable development by implementing the policies of UK government departments and the Welsh Government. However, on 1 April 2013, the part of the Environment Agency that covered Wales was merged into Natural Resources Wales, which also brought together the work of the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales, and some functions of Welsh Government.
The Environment Agency has a board of 11 members appointed by the Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Board delegates day-to-day management to the Chief Executive and its more than 11,000 employees. Its Head Office is in Bristol, with a further office at Ergon House in London. It is divided into six regions; South East, South West, Midlands, Anglian, North West and Yorkshire and North East.
In its annual report 2012-2013, the Environment Agency wrote: ‘we operate at the place where environmental change has its greatest impact on people’s lives. We reduce the risks to people and properties from flooding; make sure there is enough water for people and wildlife; protect and improve water, land and air quality and apply the environmental standards within which industry can operate.'
It acts as an environmental regulator, environmental operator, and environmental adviser, provide technical information and advice to national and local governments to support their roles in policy and decision-making and working with businesses and other organisations to help them use resources wisely.
It has statutory duties in relation to:
- Flood defence.
- Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) and industry regulation.
- Land quality.
- Radioactive substances.
- Water quality.
- Water resources.
Its core processes are:
- Permissions and compliance.
- Incident management.
- Management of fixed assets.
- Flood risk management.
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: DEFRA sets overall policy on the environment and sustainable development.
- Department of Energy and Climate Change: emissions trading, renewable energy and carbon capture and storage.
- Natural England: biodiversity, landscape and access objectives.
- Health and Safety Executive: investigating major incidents at industrial sites and ensuring that lessons are learnt under the Control of Major Hazard Regulations 1999.
- Local Authorities: flood defence and reducing flood risk; waste disposal, fly-tipping and contaminated land; recreation and creating opportunities for people to enjoy the countryside.
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
- Natural Resources Wales.
- Building flood resilience.
- Coastal groups.
- Consumer Council for Water CCWater.
- Contaminated land.
- CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.
- Drinking Water Inspectorate.
- Environmental performance of the water and sewerage companies.
- Environmental permit.
- Environmental Protection Act.
- Environmental regulators.
- Flood and Water Management Act.
- Flood insurance.
- Flood Re.
- Government publishes 2021 guidance on carbon capture technologies.
- Habitat Compensation Programme HCP.
- Hydrogeological Impact Appraisal HIA.
- Japanese knotweed identification and eradication.
- Long-term investment scenarios LTIS.
- Non-statutory consultees.
- Passive dewatering.
- Planning for floods.
- Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPGs).
- Raising awareness of dewatering regulation.
- Risk management authority RMA.
- River engineering.
- Scottish Natural Heritage.
- Shoreline management plans SMPs.
- Site waste management plan.
- Statutory authorities.
- Statutory undertakers.
- Temporary flood defences.
- Thames barrier.
- Third party dependencies.
- Water abstraction licence.
- Water derogation.
- Water impoundment licence.
- Water engineering.
- Water Industry Act 1991.
 External references
- Environment Agency.
- Annual report 2012-2013
- Environment Act 1995
- Environment Protection Act 1990
- Water Resources Act 1991
- Water Act 1989
- Water Industry Act 1991
- Fisheries Act 1981
- Land Drainage Act 1991, Land Drainage Act 1994
- Control of Pollution Act 1974
- Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999
- Radioactive Substances Act 1993
- Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003
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