Environment Newsletter - February 2011

The Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates & Inspections) (England & Wales) Regulations 2007 – Airconditioning Systems

Part 4 of the Energy Performance of Building Regulations (Certificates & Inspections) (England & Wales) 2007 imposes an obligation on those who have control of airconditioning systems (with a maximum output of more than 12kW) to make sure that the system is inspected at least every five years by an accredited energy assessor.

The requirement to have an air-conditioning system inspected was introduced in stages from 1 January 2008. The final deadline for inspection of systems in service before 1 January 2008, and with an output of more than 12kW, was 4 January 2011.

For any systems put into service after 1 January 2008, inspection must take place within 5 years of the system being put into service.

The inspecting energy assessor must provide a written report as soon as practicable after the inspection, containing information on the efficiency of the system, the size of the system compared to the building's cooling requirements and advice on how the system might be improved.

The local weights and measures authority in each area is responsible for enforcing these regulations. Enforcement is normally carried out by Trading Standards Officers who issue penalty charge notices to those who fail to comply.

Environment Agency: Civil Sanctions and New Enforcement Policy

From 4 January 2011 the Environment Agency (EA) has started using civil sanctions as well as a new enforcement and sanctions policy, consisting of documents which set out how the EA enforces environmental offences, how it chooses the appropriate criminal or civil sanction and how it proceeds with enforcement.

The Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 gives certain regulators, including the EA, the power to impose civil sanctions in certain circumstances in England and Wales, rather than prosecuting in the criminal courts. Using civil sanctions gives the EA considerable additional flexibility in enforcement and will also help businesses and individuals resolve offences without the stigma of a criminal prosecution.

Civil Sanctions are mainly available to the EA for offences in the hazardous waste, water resources, and packaging waste sectors committed after 6 April 2010. Civil sanctions are not available for offences under a number of environmental regimes, including:

Offences under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/153), which implement the Environmental Liability Directive (2004/35/EC). The Environmental Permitting (EP) regime offences. The government has consulted on whether civil sanctions should be introduced for EP regime offences but these are unlikely to be in place before April 2011. Some water pollution offences. Some waste management offences. The following civil sanctions, which can be used on their own or in combination, will be available to the EA:

Fixed monetary penalty (FMP), for minor offences, of £300 for businesses and £100 for individuals. Variable monetary penalty (VMP) for more serious offences than those for which a FMP would be appropriate. The level of the VMP is set by the EA using a methodology set out in its new enforcement and sanctions policy. Compliance notice (CN) requiring the offender to come back into compliance. Restoration notice (RN) requiring the offender to take steps to put right any damage caused as a result of its non-compliance. Stop notice (SN) which might be used to put an immediate stop to any activity that is causing, or poses a significant risk of causing, serious harm to human health or the environment and where an offence is being, or is likely to be, committed. Enforcement undertaking (EU). This is a written agreement between an offender and the EA for the offender to take action within a specified period to make amends for the non-compliance and its effects. Safety in the Oil Industry

The final report from the presidential commission investigating the causes of BP's Gulf of Mexico disaster recommended that the US oil industry adopt the North Sea approach to safety.

The US government is likely to overhaul its discredited regulatory regime covering offshore...

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