environmental protection regulations

By Paul Davies, Michael Green and Alice Gunn

Powerday plc was issued a record fine in April this year for offences relating to operations involving over 17,000 tonnes of waste deposited and stored illegally. Powerday – one of the biggest waste-management companies in the South-East of England – pleaded guilty and was subsequently fined £1 million, in addition to £243,955 in costs by the court.

This case is demonstrable of the courts’ increasing willingness to issue significant fines for environmental offences. Whilst notable, the Powerday case (and fine) is no longer uncommon – Yorkshire Water faced a similar fine for sewage pollution offences this year while Thames Water was found guilty in January this year of two counts of breaching environmental regulations, resulting in a £1 million fine plus additional costs.

By Paul Davies and Andrew Westgate

The Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress has released the revised Shanghai Environmental Protection Regulations (in Chinese only) for public comment. The revised Regulations, which first came into force in 1997, apply exclusively in Shanghai, one of China’s most prosperous and business-intensive regions and are an example of China’s continued commitment at a local level to transitioning towards a low carbon economy.

Significant provisions

In this post, we will comment on those provisions in the proposed Regulations that are particularly significant or interesting to note in the wider context of the development of Chinese environmental law. China’s National People’s Congress passed an amended version of China’s national Environmental Protection Law (EPL) in 2014 – the first amendments since the law’s initial passage in 1989. Whilst many of the proposed provisions in the Regulations track the revised EPL (for example, the establishment of pollution caps), others are potentially very different, including rewards for meeting pollution goals and the issuance of an industry-by-industry catalogue. Below are the provisions to consider as a multinational business operating in Shanghai.

Public Interest Litigation and Environmental NGOS (Articles 5 and 8) These provisions echo the EPL by stating that citizens shall have access to environmental information, and the right to report violations and to protect their rights through litigation. The Regulations also express support for public interest environmental litigation filed by environmental NGOs in