Last edited 20 Dec 2018

Environmental Protection Act

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 is an Act of Parliament that implements the European Union Waste Framework Directive in England, Wales and Scotland. It defines the structure and authority for waste management and the control of emissions and strengthens controls and enforcement, with stricter penalties.

Prior to the implementation of the Act, separate environmental regulations had been in place for air, water and land pollution. The 1990 Act introduced an integrated scheme to achieve the ‘best practicable environmental options’ as well as providing a public right of access to information.

The Act is made up of the following parts:

  • Part I: Establishes the regulations for setting the limits on emissions (as of 1996, this has been the responsibility of the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency).
  • Part II: Sets out regulations regarding the controlled disposal of household, industrial and commercial waste on land, and places a duty on local authorities to collect, treat and dispose of waste.
  • Part III: Defines a class of statutory nuisances for which local authorities can require remedial action.
  • Part IV: Defines criminal offences concerning litter.
  • Part V: Amends the Radioactive Substances Act 1960 (repealed by the Radioactive Substances Act 1993).
  • Part VI: Defines statutory notification and risk assessment procedures relating to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
  • Part VII: Establishes new organisations – the Nature Conservancy Council for England, the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland, and the Countryside Council for Wales.

An additional section (Part IIA) was inserted by the Environment Act 1995. This deals with contaminated land and defines a scheme of identification and compulsory remedial action.

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