Updated: Industrial pollution at record low

13th November 2013


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Water ,
  • Resource extraction ,
  • Engineering and metals ,
  • Chemicals ,
  • Manufacturing

Author

IEMA

Serious pollution incidents in England fell to a new low in 2012, as regulated sites continued to improve their environmental performance, confirms the Environment Agency

In its annual report on industrial emissions, pollution incidents and the performance of permitted sites, the regulator confirms it dealt with just 504 serious pollution events last year, down from 548 in 2011. The figure is the lowest on record, with the number of serious incidents falling 55% since 2000.

Just 38% of serious pollution incidents in 2012 were from permitted sites – down from 42% last year – and the regulator praised the water and sewage sector in particular for improving its performance. Following an increase in incidents in 2011, significant polluting events caused by England’s nine water companies fell by 47% year-on-year (from 115 to 61).

The agency warned, however, that serious pollution from the waste sector increased for the second year in a row, with the majority of incidents relating to odours from biowaste and landfill sites.

The 2012 figures also reveal that a record number of permitted sites are performing at the highest level of compliance, with 78% of environmental permit holders were rated as ‘A’ – up from 76% in 2011.

The figures reveal that there has been no improvement in the number of poorly performing organisations (those ranked D, E or F), however. The biowaste sector had the highest proportion of D, E and F ranked sites, followed by the metals industry and the waste storage, transfer and use sectors.

“Overall, the environmental performance of industry in England is good and continues to improve,” commented Paul Leinster, chief executive at the agency. “Serious pollution incidents have more than halved since 2000. It is good to see that 78% of sites scored an ‘A’ rating for environmental performance this year – the highest ever – even in difficult economic times.”

While serious pollution incidents were down, the agency’s figures reveal that industrial emissions of sulphur (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particular matter (PM10) increased significantly in 2012.

The regulator cited the cold winter and high gas prices for an increase in coal-fired electricity generation, which saw SOx levels rise by 19% year-on-year, while emissions of NOx and PM10 increased by 13% and 14% respectively. In 2012, 40% of the UK’s electricity came from coal-powered plants, the highest since 1996.

Meanwhile, the first report on NIEA compliance and enforcement rates from the environment department in Northern Ireland confirms that compliance with industrial water orders stood at 91% in 2012/13 – a 4% increase since 2008/9.

The number of breaches related to protected sites has also fallen, down 57% on 2008/9 figures. However, the change may be explained by the new risk-based monitoring regime introduced in 2010/11, under which the percentage of sites inspected fell from 97% to just 28%.

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

Young people struggling to secure green jobs

Just one in 20 workers aged 27 and under have the skills needed to help drive the net-zero transition, compared with one in eight of the workforce as a whole, new LinkedIn data suggests.

18th June 2024

Read more

Consumers are flexing their purchasing power in support of more sustainable products and services. Dr Andrew Coburn, CEO of sustainability intelligence and analytics firm, Risilience, considers the risk of greenwashing and sets out three key steps businesses can take to avoid the pitfalls and meet the opportunities of changing consumer demand.

18th June 2024

Read more

With a Taskforce on Inequality and Social-related Financial Disclosures in the pipeline, Beth Knight talks to Chris Seekings about increased recognition of social sustainability

6th June 2024

Read more

While biodiversity net gain is now making inroads, marine net gain is still in its infancy. Ed Walker explores the balance between enabling development and safeguarding our marine environment

6th June 2024

Read more

David Symons, FIEMA, director of sustainability at WSP, and IEMA’s Lesley Wilson, tell Chris Seekings why a growing number of organisations are turning to nature-based solutions to meet their climate goals

6th June 2024

Read more

Sarah Spencer on the clear case for stronger partnerships between farmers and renewable energy developers

6th June 2024

Read more

Groundbreaking legislation on air and noise pollution and measures to tackle growing concerns over disposable vapes provide the focus for Neil Howe’s environmental legislation update

6th June 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close