England won’t accept EU rules on river pollution

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Council and the European Parliament at the end of January 2024. have developed preliminary political agreement on the proposed revision of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. New EU regulations introduce the polluter pays principle. Lawmakers thus want to force pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies to bear part of the cost of restoring the rivers. However, the English government does not intend to implement these regulations in its country.

Extended producer liability for chemical pollution of rivers

An amendment to the Urban Waste Water Treatment (UWWT) directive is aimed at further tightening restrictions on pollutants discharged into the environment. Over the past 30 years, EU regulations have improved the cleanliness of rivers, lakes, groundwater and seas. In 2019. The commission conducted their evaluation and found that More than 90 percent. wastewater is subject to treatment based on the high standards stipulated by EU law.

However, surface water pollution continues to be a major problem, not least due to the emergence of new pollutants. Therefore, it is planned to implement stricter regulations for the removal of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from wastewater. For the first time, standards for micropollutants, including those from pharmaceuticals, were also applied. Under Extended Producer Responsibility, companies producing cosmetics and drugs will be charged a minimum of 80 percent of the cost of treating wastewater from their production. The rationale is that More than 90 percent. Micropollutants come from these sources. The new regulations will oblige producers to use available wastewater treatment methods and shift the cost to them, rather than burdening society and the environment.

England will stay with its regulations

A spokesman for the British government said this about the decision taken on the issue: We already have a polluter pays principle in law under the Environmental Protection Law. Many of our statutory programs equal or exceed EU goals. He added that the government is also taking steps to increase the control powers granted to water companies and to limit the discharge of wastewater by introducing legislation that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to impose fines on companies that pollute rivers.

Northern Ireland and Scotland will adopt additional micropollution regulations. The former is bound by the same environmental rules as the Republic of Ireland, while the latter will most likely seek to maintain regulations in line with the EU so that it can more easily rejoin the EU in the event of independence. Today, British citizens and the environment continue to be exposed to a growing number of harmful chemicals that have been banned in EU countries, according to Chloe Alexander, senior campaigner for the CHEM Trust.

River pollution a serious problem for England

May 2023 data. describing the state of rivers in England show that only14 percent of of them are in good ecological status, and none meet the criteria for good chemical status. The main sources of water contamination are agriculture and municipal wastewater. In recent years, because of the failure to prevent illegal wastewater discharges, the public has begun to wonder about the effectiveness of pro-environmental measures by the government and bodies such as the Water Services Regulatory Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to a report by the UK-European CHEM Trust, since the UK left the European Union and established UK REACH as an independent, stand-alone system for regulating the presence of contaminants in the environment, UK regulations in this area have not kept pace with real changes. The system is also being eroded by weakening chemical safety rules and processes. The authors report that the main reason for this is a lack of system capacity and a more cautious regulatory approach. It seems that the British government could invest more resources and legislative capacity in protecting rivers in the Islands.

The report indicates that pressure against the introduction of new standards is also adversely affecting the state of the UK’s rivers. All regulatory priorities require additional preparatory work, consisting mainly of evidence gathering and analysis of risk management options. This delays action to prevent the accumulation of risks to human health and good environmental health from exposure to harmful substances. There is also a lack of transparency in the way political and regulatory decisions are made, which increases the scope for lobbying by large industrial concerns.

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