Environment Agency

(see also the List of environmental organizations)

The Environment Agency (Welsh: Asiantaeth yr Amgylchedd) of England and Wales was created by the Environment Act 1995, along with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. It took over the roles and responsibilities of the National Rivers Authority, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP) and the waste regulation authorities in England and Wales including the London Waste Regulation Authority. All of the predeccesor bodies were disbanded and the local authorities relinquished their waste regulatory role.

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The standard of the Environment Agency


The stated mission of the newly created agency was "to protect or enhance the environment, taken as a whole" so as to promote "the objective of achieving sustainable development" (taken from the Environment Act 1995, section 4).


Flood Risk Management

The agency is the main body responsible for creating and maintaining flood defences and providing flood warning systems. Control of water levels is usually by systems of sluices, weirs and locks. The agency issues regular flood warnings and maintains maps of areas liable to flooding. Functions in relations to canals are undertaken by the British Waterways Board

Waste regulation

The agency is the regulatory authority for all waste management activities including the licensing of sites such as landfill and incineration facilities. It also grants licenses for handling special waste such as radioactive, chemical or medical materials. The Agency monitors waste management sites and any individuals or companies found to have caused pollution or have infringed their licence conditions can be prosecuted and potentially have waste handling licenses revoked by the Courts.

Pollution control

Under the provisions of a series of Acts of Parliament, the Agency is the main regulator of discharges to the aquatic environment and to land. It does this through the issue of formal consents to dicharge. Failure to comply with such a consent or making a discharge without the benefit of a consent can lead to criminal prosecution.

Water Quality Management

The Agency has a duty to maintain and improve the quality of surface and ground waters and as part of the duty it monitors the quality of rivers lakes and ground-water on a regular basis.

Water Resource Management

The Agency manages the use and conservation of water through the issue of water abstraction licences for activities such as drinking water supply, artificial irrigation, hydro-electricity generation. Complex arrangements exist for the management of river regulation reservoirs which are used to store winter water in the wetter parts of England and Wales in order to maintain levels in the summer time so that there is sufficient water to supply the drier parts of the country with drinking water.


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The Environment Agency runs canal locks.

Licenses for boats travelling on inland waterways are issued by the agency as are fishing licenses and permission to take (abstract) and discharge water.


The Agency is the body responsible for maintaining and improving the quality of fisheries in the UK. It does this by pro-active work to improve the habitat for fisheries and by managing angling effort through the issue of fishing licences.


The agency is funded in part from the UK government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Welsh Assembly Government. Additional money is raised from the issuing of licenses and permits such as abstraction licences, waste handling licences, navigation rights and even fishing licences.

Money for maintenance and improvement of flood defences has traditionally come from the local authorities in the areas being defended but central Government is now playing a larger role in funding this area of work.

Organisational Management

The Environment Agency is overseen by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (currently Margaret Beckett), but has its own chairman, chief executive and board of directors. Past chairmen are

and past chief executives:

External links

Related acts of parliament


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