Contractors are being warned not to be complacent about on-site pollution and waste despite Environment Agency funding cuts which could potentially lead to fewer on-site visits.
Lynn Bleakley, director at Midlands law firm Cartwright King, specialises in representing contractors charged by regulators with health and safety or environmental breaches.
She said that while health and safety continues to be prioritised, contractors are also liable to receive huge fines for not heeding environmental laws.
“It is unlikely someone will die from environmental breaches which might be why it is not prioritised,” she said. “However, the cost of putting it right can be huge.”
The Environment Agency has already had funding cuts as part of 30 per cent savings expected from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under tightened spending.
Construction sites are seen as a health and safety risk so HSE site visits will not be cut back, Ms Bleakley said, but members of the public can force an EA site visit if they notice something wrong.
She added: “We don’t see as many environmental prosecutions for contractors as we do health and safety but it is extremely important that as cut backs result in less publicity and information about environmental responsibility, those in construction ensure that they keep up with legal requirements.”
Contractors should review environmental permits and ensure that they document conversations about responsibilities between supply chain members to ensure they don’t find themselves in court, she said.