Memorandum by the Environment Agency (HSE
1. The roles of the Environment Agency and
the Health and Safety Executive are distinct but complementary
and closely linked in a number of areas. The Agency is concerned
with protecting the wider environment including health impacts,
whereas the HSE's primary focus concerns protecting people at
work. The need for co-operation and close liaison arises in many
areas, for example regulation of new and existing substances,
industrial processes, radioactive substances and pollution prevention.
2. The two bodies co-operate closely on
many matters and the Agency looks forward to continuing this constructive
joint approach. This document identifies key areas of joint working
and describes how liaison is managed.
3. The Agency and the HSE have an MoU to
ensure effective co-ordination of the regulation of plant, processes
and substances and measures to protect people and the environment
where these are subject to control by both bodies. The MoU established
an overarching framework for liaison. It commits both parties
to close co-operation to minimise duplication of effort and ensure
neither industry nor any other party is faced with conflicting
demands where both regulators have a concern. Several subsidiary
MoUs have been produced to cover working arrangements on specific
4. Most contacts between the two bodies
arise in the context of day to day operations, and there is a
range of issues on which individuals need to liaise. For example,
we have a statutory duty to consult the HSE over an application
to operate an activity under an integrated pollution control authorisation
or a waste management licence. We have a duty to consult each
other when considering applications for radioactive waste disposal
authorisations and nuclear site licences. We also advise the HSE
where problems concerning plant safety are discovered in the course
of inspection. Likewise, the HSE alerts the Agency when significant
risks to the environment are revealed during inspection.
5. Where formal enforcement action is planned
at sites of joint interest, the Agency and the HSE take every
available opportunity, at national and local level, to co-ordinate
approaches to employers and operators. We consult each other before
instituting legal proceedings on matters of mutual concern.
6. Both organisations separately advise
Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) on the possible impact of industrial
developments on people and the environment. The Agency and the
HSE recognise the need for liaison to resolve differences of view
before comments are provided to LPAs.
7. The Agency and the HSE have various responsibilities
in connection with incidents and emergencies. These range from
investigations of incidents to direct action by the Agency to
avoid water pollution and in relation to flood defence. The overarching
MoU requires that whenever one organisation learns of an incident
or emergency where the other may have an interest, it should pass
on the information as soon as practicable.
8. The Agency and the HSE are the Joint
Competent Authority to implement the Control of Major Accident
Hazards Regulations 1999 ("COMAH") in England and Wales.
A subsidiary MoU is in place to ensure that there is effective
liaison regarding COMAH sites, both in connection with planning
effort to prevent incidents occuring, and to manage impact if
an incident occurs. The incident liaison arrangements in respect
of other sites of shared interest are currently being reviewed.
9. On nuclear licensed sites, the use of
radioactive materials and the accumulation of radioactive wastes
are regulated by the HSE's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.
The Agency regulates the disposal of radioactive wastes on and
from these sites; in the case of other sites, the Agency regulates
both the keeping and use of radioactive materials and the accumulation
and disposal of radioactive waste. Because of the interaction
between the legislation which the Agency and the HSE enforce,
ie the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 and the Nuclear Installations
Act 1965, a separate MoU sets out working arrangements in areas
of common concern, in particular on minimising the generation
of radioactive waste and ensuring that waste handling and treatment
have regard for disposal requirements. The Agency, the HSE and
the Government are discussing the case for providing the Agency
with a statutory power, in parallel with the HSE, to control storage
of radioactive waste at nuclear licensed sites. A recommendation
to this effect was made by the House of Lords Select Committee
on Science and Technology in its recent Report on Nuclear Waste
10. The Agency and the HSE have roles in
preparing and implementing national and international legislation,
policy, standards and commitments, in liaison with each other
and Government Departments as appropriate. We have agreed to liaise
with each other in the application and interpretation of technical
standards and the preparation of relevant guidance and to keep
each other informed of new scientific developments likely to be
of mutual interest. This ensures that from the outset there is
effective technical co-ordination in the application of both technical
standards and working practices to proposed new developments.
A current example of this is discussion between ourselves, the
HSE and the Government over revision of the Genetically Modified
Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations.
11. Both the Agency and the HSE are open
about our activities as part of our commitment to the Citizen's
Charter and in compliance with Environmental Information Regulations
and the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information 1994.
Both organisations emphasised our commitment to openness in recent
evidence to the inquiry by the House of Commons Select Committee
on Public Administration into the Government's draft Freedom of
Information Bill. To encourage a consistent approach to disclosure
of information, the overarching MoU requires the HSE and the Agency
to make each other aware of proposed disclosure where the other
has a concern.