Industrial and Waste Enforcement Overview

The EPA is responsible for the environmental regulation of large industrial and waste activities. The EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) works to ensure that operators comply with the conditions of their licence. The total number of Industrial and Waste licences in force in 2019 together with new licenses issued and licenses surrendered furing the period is provided below. View licences, applications and asssociated enforcement reports for EPA licensed industrial and waste sites.

 Industrial and Waste Licences 2019 
  833   No. of licences in force during 2019
  28   New licences issued during 2019
  20   Reviewed licensed issued to existing sites during 2019
  4   Licence surrender applications completed by the EPA during 2019

 The EPA’s objective is to ensure that operators carry on their activities in accordance with their licences. These objectives are advanced through a combination of promoting compliance, guidance and assistance, monitoring compliance, inspections and sampling, and taking enforcement actions where necessary.

The EPA’s enforcement approach is underpinned by the principles of our Compliance and Enforcement Policy:

Risk-based

Our enforcement work is risk-based, focusing resources and regulatory action on activities that pose a risk to human health and/or the environment.

Proportionality

Enforcement action taken is proportionate with the risk posed to human health and/or the environment, the damage already caused and the costs of remedial works required. We also consider enforcement action where there are persistent regulatory breaches.

Consistency

We have systems which provide consistency in the approach to the use of enforcement powers and in deciding the appropriate enforcement response. This means the public, the regulated community and other stakeholders know what to expect from the EPA. We promote consistency nationally through effective liaison with those we regulate and other regulatory authorities.

Transparency

We support compliance within the regulated community by being clear and open about what is expected of them in terms of legal requirements and compliance and what they should expect from us in terms of regulatory oversight.

We publish enforcement information including site visit reports, monitoring results, enforcement correspondence, priority lists, performance reports and legal convictions on the EPA’s website in a timely manner.

Polluter pays

We work to ensure that polluters are held financially accountable for their actions (including bearing the cost of environmental remediation), that they do not profit from illegal activity and that they do not gain a competitive advantage over law-abiding operators.

2019 at a glance

2019 at a glance

Summary analysis of key enforcement data 2015-2018

A comparative analysis of the key enforcement data for the years 2015 to 2019 is provided in the table below and can be summarised as follows:

  • On average, more than half of the industrial and waste licensed sites had no non-compliance recorded by the EPA in the period 2015-2019.
  • The number of compliance investigations opened by the EPA during 2019 decreased slightly from 2017 and 2018.
  • On average almost three quarters of all sites were visited by EPA each year in the period 2015 to 2019 and 42% of all sites were visited at least twice in 2019.
  • On average 15 prosecutions, taken by the EPA, are concluded each year. In 2019, 7 cases concluded with more cases being prepared for 2020 based on evidence gathered during 2019.
  • 2019 saw the continued reduction (22%) in the number of complaints received from members of the public when compared with 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Odour remained the key issue for the public (50% of all complaints). Whilst odour remains the main issue for complaints there has been a steady reduction in odour complaints since 2015, and the 2019 data indicates further decrease in the overall number of complaints. This is discussed further in the complaints section.

 2015 to 2019 Overview

* includes fines and costs from DPP case