For many entrepreneurs, and even in larger businesses, ensuring that your company is environmentally compliant is not always a top priority. Yet environmental statutes carry criminal sanctions – which are applicable to directors, the secretary and other officers of a company as well as to the company itself. In addition, the clean-up cost of any environmental contamination can be crushing for a business.
It sounds scary, but do not panic! There are areas to prioritise when checking that your environmental house is in order. Here are our three most common issues to consider when managing your risk:
Fuel storage tanks for heating oil, diesel and petrol – the mandatory legal requirements for fuel storage tanks are in the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 and equivalent provisions for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Compliance with these Regulations is designed to reduce the very substantial risk of leakage, spillage and serious contamination from fuel storage facilities. Contamination from fuel storage tanks and pipework is the single biggest area of contamination liability that we come into contact with in the business world, so make sure that your operation is taking the necessary precautions.
Asbestos reports for commercial properties – there is a legal requirement under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 for all commercial properties to have a suitable and sufficient assessment of whether asbestos is likely to be present in the premises. This applies to all premises, even modern ones where asbestos presence is unlikely. What does this mean? Well, failure to obtain a survey and to comply with its recommendations for the management or removal of asbestos will serve as powerful evidence of negligence if employees, contractors or even visitors to your business premises are harmed by contact with asbestos-containing materials.
Septic tanks – these require registration under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010. Exception to these Regulations apply for small domestic septic tanks, although these are subject to complex conditions. Despite the fact that septic tanks pose a significant contamination hazard, they are rarely subject to attention from management. The registration process is intended to improve awareness and management of the risks associated with septic tank drainage systems.
Do these legal requirements apply to your business? Are you unsure whether your business is compliant? How should you be managing the environmental risks?
Our environmental law experts are ready to help. Please contact:
Mark Brumwell, Partner, gunnercooke
Mobile: 07887 562 917