Members gave consideration to a report which presented a newly developed Policy. The New Environmental Protection Policy provided a framework for the functions undertaken by the Environmental Protection work area. The development of the Policy was in response to the work area audit review carried out in 2019 in which substantial assurance was achieved.
The Policy covered the following functions and sat underneath the Corporate Enforcement Policy;
- Statutory Nuisance (Noise, Smoke, Odour, Accumulation of Waste)
- Smoke Control
- Air Quality
- Environmental Permitting
- Public Health Drainage
- Contaminated Land
- Prevention of Damage by Pests
- Private Water Supplies
- Sunday Trading
The Policy aimed to provide a clear framework in which to make decisions and to ensure that the Council’s position was clear in relation to the matters covered within it.
If approved the Policy would to come into effect immediately, following any call- in period.
Debate ensued and given the nature of the Policy and its potential linkages with work being undertaken by the Council’s Sustainability Working Group, a member of that Group suggested that this and any such Policy should be reviewed by that Group, as part of a Policy’s development. There were also concerns that if the Policy was for external customers, its presentation and language could be more customer friendly in its design. The use of flow charts and diagrams to express timelines involved was a favoured approach, and something it was considered the Council should consider adopting more widely.
In response, whilst Officers initially indicated they were happy to receive comments from the mentioned Working Group, others Members expressed caution. The Working Group had a clear terms of reference, set by its parent committee. It was for the parent committee to decide whether any working Groups remit should be extended. Giving a working group the power to review all policies in their development stage was not something considered appropriate, with Policy being within the remit of this Committee to set. Regarding the style and wording of the document, given the Policy’s regulatory nature, some of the language used was unavoidable. Assurance was given that the Policy would be supported by more customer facing / friendly documents as suggested.
There was some debate regarding the wording of the Aims and Objectives within Section 2 of the Policy, in particular the use of the word “acceptable”. It was questioned whether this was appropriate or whether the Council should be striving for more, should there be an acceptable level?
In response Officers again re-iterated that this was a regulatory policy and many of the areas covered by the Policy, within law and regulation were dealt with within a framework which included an acceptance; a tolerance level, air quality being the cited example. Given this, the consensus was that the wording should remain unchanged.
Having been moved, seconded and on being put to the vote it was unanimously: -
RESOLVED that: -
(a) the Environmental Protection Policy be approved; and
(b) delegated authority be granted to the Chief Executive in consultation with Chair of the Prosperous Communities Committee to undertake any housekeeping amendments arising in the future.