Environmental Management Systems – Your A – Z guide

Environmental Regulators

For the UK, the principal regulators are described below, along with links and contact details. There are a number of differences in environmental legislation in the UK across England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

This is reflected in the existence and responsibilities of the national environmental enforcement bodies below.

Environment Agency

The Agency’s work involves

  • Protecting people from floods
  • Working with industry to protect the environment and human health
  • Regulating higher risk businesses with hazardous operations
  • Helping business use resources more efficiently
  • Taking action against businesses who don't take responsible environmental action
  • Protection of wildlife and habitats
  • Helping to improve the quality of inner city areas and parks by restoring rivers and lakes
  • Influencing and working with government, industry and local authorities to make the environment a priority.

Environment Agency
Horizon House, Deanery Road
Tel: 03708 506 506



Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Responsibilities are similar to the Environment Agency’s, with some differences:

  • All PPC requirements are regulated (there are no local authority powers under PPC in Scotland)
  • Flood defence is limited to issuing flood warnings
  • No fisheries involvement
  • Water resources (abstraction licensing) responsibilities were acquired in 2005 under the Water Framework Directive
Erskine Court
Castle Business Park
Tel: 01786 457700
Fax: 01786 446885

Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service

  • Natural heritage – protection of wildlife species, habitats and rural landscapes
  • Environmental protection – water quality, air quality and noise, waste
  • management, industrial pollution and drinking water for public and private supplies
  • Built heritage – identify, record and protect historic monuments and buildings

Calvert House
Castle Place
Tel: (01232) 254754


Local Authorities

Local Council’s have a range of environmental regulation responsibilities delivered through their Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Planning functions (and across District, County and Unitary Authorities). These include:

  • Land use planning
  • Local air quality strategies (to reflect the national air quality strategy)
  • Local Authority Air Pollution Control (LAAPC) including PPC Part B
  • installations in England and Wales
  • Clean Air Act 1993
  • Noise and statutory nuisance (eg dust and odour)
  • Environmental health
  • Contaminated land
  • Tree preservation orders

Local Authorities and respective contacts can be sourced on 

Natural England

Conservation of wildlife and geology in England, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). NE has enforcement powers to prevent damage to habitats.

Includes the responsibilities of the former ‘English Nature’ and also the former Countryside Agency - statutory body dealing with economic, environmental, community and recreation aspects of the countryside in England.

Natural England
1 East Parade
S1 2ET
Tel: 0114 241 8920
Fax: 0114 241 8921

Wildlife Management and Licensing: Contacts
General and licensing enquiries : Tel: 0845 601 4523 (Local rate)
email: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk


A web based tool developed and run by the UK’s environmental regulators. Designed to help businesses identify relevant environmental laws and regulations and actions required to comply. Click here to find out more - NETREGS Website - http://www.netregs.gov.uk/


The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs has a number of useful and relevant web pages:

Other Environmental Regulators:

British Waterways - Maintenance of inland waterway network 

Cadw  - Protection and conservation of the built environment in Wales 

Countryside Council for Wales - The natural landscape and wildlife conservation Authority for Wales and its inshore watersnmental law and regulation in theUK

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) -  Principal government department for policy on the environment. For regulatory responsibilities see Defra website (link above) 

Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform - BERR (previously DTI) - Regulation of offshore oil and gas installations in the UK, through the Offshore Oil and Gas Directorate 

Drinking Water Quality Regulator - Monitors the progress of Scottish Water in improving the quality of Scotland’s drinking water 

Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) - Regulates public water supplies in England and Wales. Responsible for assessing the quality of drinking water, taking enforcement action if standards are not being met, and appropriate action when water is unfit for human consumption 

English Heritage - Protection and conservation of the built environment in England, including listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments 

Forestry Commission – Regulatory role on woods and trees through felling licences 

Health and Safety Executive - Joint competent authority (with EA, SEPA and EHS NI) for Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH) sites. Health and safety in nuclear installations and mines, factories, farms, hospitals and schools, offshore gas and oil installations, the safety of the gas grid and the movement of dangerous goods and substances, railway safety, and other aspects of the protection both of workers and the public. Local authorities are responsible to HSE for enforcement in offices, shops and other parts of the services sector 

Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) - Manage land drainage in areas of special drainage need. Each board operates within a defined area in which they are empowered under the Land Drainage Act 1991. Further information is available from the Association of Drainage Authorities website

Marine Consents and Environment Unit - Administers marine works consents in tidalwaters and at sea: marine developments, offshore energy, coast defences, dredging and waste disposal. Administers certain applications on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government which is the licensing authority in Welsh waters 

Pesticides Safety Directorate -  Ensures that pesticides in the UK are safe for users, consumers and the environment 

Scottish Government and local authorities - Flood defence in Scotland 

Scottish Natural Heritage - Conservation and enhancement of habitats, species and landscapes in Scotland, including ‘protected’ areas (NNRs, SSSIs, SPAs, NSAs, National Parks) 

Scottish Water - Water abstraction and supply in Scotland 

Water companies (England and Wales) -  Water companies have a number of duties relating to water supplies (to collect, store and transfer water to cope with normal fluctuations in rainfall) and sewerage but they also hold powers to control and police discharges of trade effluent to foul drains under the Water Industry Act  

Welsh Assembly (environment) - The Environment Planning and Countryside Committee brings together the Welsh Assembly Government’s responsibility for sustainable development; planning; environmental policy, countryside issues; National Parks Authorities; agricultural and Rural affairs



Last modified December 22, 2014 3:24:45 PM