Regulator to pilot EMS+
- Food and drink ,
- Certification ,
Sites with accredited certification to ISO 14001 might soon be able to use their EMS auditors to review their operations rather than be visited by Environment Agency inspectors.
Under the plans, being developed by the Environment Agency with strong support from BIS and Defra, third-party auditors will assess a site against a compliance protocol developed by the EA. The agency will then review the outcome. Sites that show good regulatory performance will have an alternative, much reduced inspection regime.
The aim is to reduce regulatory inspections of sites with a good compliance classification score and which are already subject to third-party auditing of their environmental management system (EMS). It should mean lower charges and fewer visits for sites taking part in the voluntary scheme.
The initiative, being branded as EMS+, will be piloted in the cement, food and drink, and waste sectors from the end of the summer, before an anticipated roll out in April 2012. The pilots will test the protocol and whether the perceived benefits of third-party review are realisable.
The government hopes EMS+ will enable the agency – which has seen its budget for permitting work cut 6% this year, and faces a potential further 16% reduction by 2014/15 – to focus its diminishing resources on poor performers. It also helps to meet the challenge set by BIS and Defra in the review of waste policies.
Martin Baxter, policy director at IEMA, believes the scheme will increase the attraction of 14001 certified environmental management systems and improve the quality of audits.
“An accredited EMS certificate will be the entry point to lower EA fees and charges. Companies may have to pay certification bodies more, but they will reap enhanced benefits from having an EMS,” he says. “And, because auditors will now be assessing how well a site is performing against its permit, the quality of audits should rise.”
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