The Environment Agency says it has relied on technology to help it regulate the waste industry during the coronavirus pandemic.
It says that by using online services such as Zoom, checking CCTV video footage and requesting specific evidence to prove sites are storing waste correctly, it has been successful in carrying out inspections remotely.
David Hudson, area environment manager for the Environment Agency, said: “Coronavirus is not an excuse to operate illegally.
“We are continuing to work closely with businesses and industry to help them meet their legal requirements and we are continuing to enforce regulatory requirements, while following the government’s guidance on social distancing.
“We make clear in our approach to regulation and enforcement that we expect operators to take all reasonable steps to comply with regulatory requirements using contingency plans to help them comply.”
The Environment Agency says regulatory visits to sites that could cause serious environmental harm continue during the pandemic, but in certain instances the organisation has been able to carry out virtual inspections of permitted waste sites to check they are complying with regulations.
Remote ways of working have been used to carry out checks of permitted waste sites throughout the Midlands, including at Tom White Waste, which has three permits for its two sites in Coventry, the Environment Agency says.
“We’ve been able to innovate and use technology to continue to regulate throughout this pandemic”
Mr Hudson said: “We’ve been able to innovate and use technology to continue to regulate throughout this pandemic.
“Working remotely, we have received all of the necessary paperwork and photographs from Tom White Waste and carried out a meeting with them on Zoom, which included a site tour via their real time CCTV, to check their sites comply with the regulations of their permits.
“In this case we were satisfied the company has shown good practice and complied with the regulations.”
Regulatory position statements
To support businesses during the pandemic, the Environment Agency says it has put in place several regulatory position statements (RPSs).
It says these help businesses minimise risks to the environment and human health where, for reasons beyond their control, compliance with certain regulatory requirements may not be possible.
The most recent of these relaxed permit requirements on the treatment and storage of waste potentially infected with coronavirus.