Hospitality businesses are running the risk of prosecution and fines for failing to comply with new environmental legislation which is expected to come into force during 2009, experts warned today.
The warning followed a survey of 363 small hotel and restaurant operators which revealed that 89% could not identify any piece of environmental legislation unprompted – the highest of any sector questioned.
In 2007, small and medium sized businesses (across all sectors) were hit by fines of around £2.4m for pollution and environmental damage.
This was largely caused by poor awareness of the laws, according to the Environment Agency’s guidance website NetRegs.gov.uk, which carried out the study.
Richard Martin, NetRegs programme manager, said: “At a time when the Environment Agency is stepping up its enforcement and businesses are at growing risk of being fined for non-compliance, small and medium sized businesses cannot afford to let these crucial new regulations go unheeded.”
New environmental legislation for 2009
The Waste Controls (England and Wales) Regulation 2009 comes into effect on 1 October and will affect all businesses that produce waste, regardless of whether they are actively involved in waste management.
Under previous regulations, hotels and restaurants which carried their own waste did not need to register, but under the new law, they will have to register if they transport their own waste on a normal and regular basis.
The Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009 are also expected to come into force during 2009.
The legislation requires businesses to take responsibility for and report any environmental damage to land, water or biodiversity caused by their activities. Businesses will have to pay for the costs of rectifying damage.
By Daniel Thomas
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