WELSH construction firms that ignore guidelines on pollution prevention could be left counting the cost, an industry expert has warned.
David Gibson, from civil engineering company Jones Bros, says failure to take heed of the UK environmental regulators’ updated PPG6 guidance could result in a court appearance and a hefty fine.
“Environmental management can be easy to get wrong because of unpredictable factors such as the weather, and the penalties are stringent”, he said.
“Even minor breaches can result in a fine of up to £20,000 in magistrates’ courts, while major offences can carry an unlimited fine in the crown court. That’s not to mention the damage to the environment and the company’s reputation.
“All construction firms need to be paying as much attention to pollution prevention and environmental protection as they do to health and safety.”
Mr Gibson, health, safety, environment and quality manager at Jones Bros, was speaking ahead of the Wales launch of the new guidelines at Cardiff City Stadium on November 18.
The free event has been organised by the construction industry environmental forum CIEF. North Wales-headquartered Jones Bros, which recently opened a southern regional office in Swansea, is sponsoring it and Mr Gibson will be among the speakers.
There are several hundred pollution incidents from construction and demolition sites every year that damage the environment, yet most can easily be prevented.
“Good planning is the key to successful pollution prevention,” said Mr Gibson.
“As an example of the damage that can be caused, construction sites have the potential to pollute streams and rivers with oils, fresh concrete, chemicals and silt. It’s essential that robust systems and effective control measures are put in place before construction work is started.”
The updated guidance covers issues such as planning, material storage and incident response.
It has been produced by a steering group which included construction industry representatives such as CIRIA and Jones Bros, as well as representatives from the environmental regulators.
The interactive, user-friendly guidance explains what companies are required to do by law, and describes measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of pollution.
“The practical guidance, attractive appearance and ease of navigation should make this document a ‘must have’ for all construction and demolition companies”, said Mr Gibson.
“The checklists, layout and links to additional information should prove extremely useful.”
To reserve your place at the Wales launch of the Environment Agency’s pollution prevention guide for the construction industry, PPG6, call the CIRIA events team on 020 7549 3300 or register online at www.ciria.org.