610  Central government (and its agencies)

A selection of government bodies providing information on environment, waste, re-use, recycling and sustainability issues.


Environmental Information Regulations (and Freedom of Information Act)

Before scrolling down to view companies and organisations listed below, it may be useful to know that new Environmental Information Regulations (this text written Feb 2005) oblige public authorities and companies working for them to disclose information about the impact of their activities on the environment.  Phil Michaels, Head of Legal Affairs for Friends of the Earth (FoE), speaking on You And Yours, BBC Radio 4, Friday 18 Feb 2005:  "it is similar to the Freedom of Information Act.  There are two main differences under the Environmental Information Regulations..."  : 

1   You can ask for environmental information orally  (unlike the Freedom of Information Act which requires written requests) 

2   It applies to a wider category of authorities: you now have access to information held by authorities such as utility and water companies   (The Freedom of Information Act only applies to 'classic' public authorities such as government departments and local authorities)

Whether information is classed as coming under the Environmental Information Regulations, or the Freedom of Information Act, is a matter of fact in law and the local authority receiving your request must decide accordingly in processing it. You only need to worry about finding out which is relevant to your request if you are refused the information."

Quoting the Environmental Regulations (and possibly the Information Act) should help stop people being blocked from gaining access to information.

Phil Michaels points out one possible shortfall:  " if information isn't held or hasn't been recorded by the local authority or public body it's more difficult to get.  You can get access to info held by an authority if it is recorded in some form.  But if the information doesn't yet exist or has never been recorded because it is simply the subject of discussions then it is more difficult to get hold of.  This [is] a fundamental limit of the new Regulations and Act."  However, some may apply the argument that there is a fundamental public interest and a human right to know certain types of information (such as what you're being exposed to if a farmer is spraying a field with chemicals), and if a private individual is holding the information such a right should prompt the public body to obtain the information to pass it on.


Alphabetical list of organisations

Business Link
Tel 0845 600 9006  
Website www.businesslink.gov.org 

Government-run website and national helpline giving practical business information and advice - the number above will connect you directly to your nearest Business Link (these are listed on website).  Local support network across England, managed by business people for business people, particularly small businesses.  Gives impartial business advice and information - eg employing people, health, safety, premises, financial savings (eg energy, waste), trade, regulations, best practice - and a range of services, training, grants and publications to help small firms and those trying to start up new businesses.  Registering with the website brings access to more information.  (Updated Aug 2005)

Countryside Agency

01242 521381 (reception)  01242 533222 (enquiries)  Fax 01242 584270  
Email info@countryside.gov.uk  Website www.countryside.gov.uk

John Dower House, Crescent Place, CHELTENHAM, Glos GL50 3RA

Grant-giving statutory body resulting from merger of Countryside Commission and Rural Development Commission.  Aims to conserve the countryside now and in the future.  Provides research, information, advice and support to central and local government, public and voluntary bodies, landowners, farmers, business partners and individuals; influences policy and attitude about the natural environment through research, publications, conferences and practical projects.  Remit includes reducing traffic impacts; rewarding farmers for conserving environment; enabling people to enjoy the countryside on foot, horse or cycle; promoting social equity and economic opportunity.  Launched CRI and CRI-East (see 450 Energy section) with DTI funds, providing Local Support Teams for community-based renewable energy projects in rural and urban areas, national training and seminars.  Designates National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coasts and establishes National Trails, following consultation.  Catalogue of publications available.  London Office: Dacre House, 19 Dacre Street, London SW1 0DH, Tel 0207 340 2900, Fax 0207 340 2999.   From 1 April 2005 most current socio-economic delivery functions will be transferred to Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and DEFRA for delivery through Government Offices - see Natural England below.  (Updated May 2005)

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Helpline in UK 08459 33 55 77 (local rate, open 09:00 to17:00 on working days)  Fax Helpline 0207 270 8419 
Helpline email helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk Website www.defra.gov.uk 
Recycling and waste page www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/index.htm 
Initial correspondence: 3-8 Whitehall Place, LONDON SW1A 2HH
Headquarters: Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, LONDON SW1P 3JR  Tel 0207 238 6000  Fax 0207 238 6591  

Government department responsible for managing recycling, waste and environmental issues.  DEFRA brings together environmental responsibilities from the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the former Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.  Regional offices and contacts for different departments given on website.   (Updated May 2005)

Department for Transport  
Tel 020 7944 8300  Fax 020 7944 9622  (Enquiry Service 8.30 to 5.30 Mon to Fri) 
Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, LONDON SW1P 4DR

An important objective underlying transport strategy is balancing the need to travel with the need to improve quality of life.  The Department aims to reduce congestion, improve local environments and encourage healthier and safer lifestyles, partly through the broader agenda for Creating Safer Greener Communities  www.cleanersafergreener.gov.uk   Website includes policies on rail, freight, roads and aviation.  Policies on sustainable travel include - 
Travel Plans  to provide advice and research for employers towards reducing car use for travel to work and business
Smarter choices  to change the way we travel - report on various 'soft' transport options to help people reduce car use and make alternatives more attractive
Cycling  strategies to promote cycling as an alternative form of transport for local journeys
Walking  as an important element of sustainable transport and planning policies.
In Town Without My Car 
and European Mobility Week - two linked European Commission backed campaigns to open up town centre streets to all users
School Travel  how to promote safe, healthy and sustainable journeys to school
Home Zones  to change the way residential streets are used by addressing the wider needs of local people as well as traffic.
  (Updated May 2005)

Department of Trade and Industry  (DTI)
Tel 0207 215 5000  Fax 0207 222 2629 
(Textphone, for those with hearing impairments, compatible equipment only): 020 7215 67400 
Website www.dti.gov.uk  Email dti.enquiries@dti.gsi.gov.uk
DTI Response Centre, 1 Victoria Street, LONDON SW1H 0ET 

Government department with the overall aim "To increase competitiveness and scientific excellence in order to generate higher levels of sustainable growth and productivity in a modern economy."  Works with DEFRA to provide guidance on best practice through the Envirowise Programme (see below).  DTI & DEFRA sponsor the environmental technology and services industry.  DTI also sponsors the waste management industry.  Key contacts given on website include Company Law and Investigations, Consumer Affairs, Natural Resources, Energy (includes renewables), Regulation, Trade Policy, EC Directives, Small Firms, Regional Development, Business and Innovation, and Business and Environment (includes recycling, vehicles and tyres, environmental markets, environmental management systems, climate change, CFCs and the ozone layer, sustainable development and technologies, producer responsibility, Environment Protection Act, pollution control).  Section on procurement.  The Office of Science & Technology, also part of the DTI, is at www.dti.gov.uk/ost   (Updated May 2005)

English Nature

Tel 01733 455000  Fax 01733 568834  General enquiries 01733 455101  Fax 01733 455103
Website www.english-nature.org.uk  Email enquiries@english-nature.org.uk 
Northminster House, PETERBOROUGH, Cambs PE1 1UA

Advice to government and promotion of conservation in England of wildlife and natural features, including matters associated with National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.  Local teams at: Beds, Cambs & Northants - Ham Lane House, Ham Lane, Nene Park, Orton Waterville, Peterborough PE2 5UR (Tel 01733 405850);  Essex, Herts & London - Harbour House, Hythe Quay, Colchester CO2 8JF (Tel 01206 796666);  London - Ormond House, 26 Boswell St, London WC1N  3JZ (Tel 0207 831 6922); Berks, Bucks & Oxon (Thames & Chilterns) - Foxhold House,Thornford Rd, Crookham Common, Thatcham, Berks RG19 8EL (Tel 01635 268881); other regional contact details on website, including Kent; Sussex & Surrey; Norfolk; Suffolk.  Now working in partnership with other government bodies - see Natural England below.   (Updated May 2005)

Environment Agency

Tel 08708 506 506  Incident hotline 0800 807060  Floodline 0845 988 1188
Head Office Tel 01454 62440  Fax 01454 624409
Rio House, Waterside Drive, Aztec West, Almondsbury, BRISTOL BS12 4UD
Website www.environment-agency.gov.uk

Leading public and regulatory body with 800m budget, over half spent on flood defence.  Waste minimisation advice at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/waste/  Waste and recycling facts at  www.environment-agency.gov.uk/yourenv/eff/resources_waste/213982/203620/?lang=_e   Formed 1996 by amalgamating National Rivers Authority, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution, former local authority waste regulation authorities, and several smaller government units.  Aims to provide high quality environmental protection and improvement through prevention, education and rigorous enforcement where necessary.  Divided into regions: Anglian | Midlands | North East | North West | South West | Southern | Thames | Wales.  Contact these via website.  Thames Regional Office: Kings Meadow House, Kings Meadow Road, Reading RG1 8DQ, Tel 01734 535000, Fax 01734 500388.     Also information on:  state of the environment; a better quality of life; a greener business world;  better waters; cleaner air for everyone; climate change; energy; sustainable use of natural resources; healthy soils; reducing flood risk; sustainability; wildlife.  Now working in partnership with other government bodies - see Natural England below.  (Updated Apr 2005)

Website www.envirowise.gov.uk  Helpline 0800 585794

Government programme to minimise waste.  Offers free, independent advice, information to help small and medium size businesses on practical ways to minimise waste, introduce sustainability into the workplace, convert turnover into profit, and ensure compliance with environmental legislation.  Covers wide range including water and energy saving measures, cleaner design and technology.  Many case studies.  Published over 70 best practice guides (including Getting Started).  In the last year alone, saved British businesses more than 100 million.  Publications free to those registering on website.  Environment and Energy helpline offers: two hours of free consulting over the phone on a specific problem; FastTrack on-site waste reviews - free half-day site visits for SMEs (small to medium enterprises, below 250 employees) to solve operational issues; one day visit for free on-site assessment of operations for recommendations on waste management; identifying appropriate Envirowise products and sources of help; free on-site energy efficiency advice.  Runs seminars and workshops.  Provides map of Waste Minimisation Clubs - for local or regional companies to meet regularly and share best practice in reducing waste.  Formally known as the Environment Technology Best Practice Programme.  (Updated Apr 2005)  

Food Standards Agency
Tel 0207 276 8000  Emergencies only 0207 270 8960  
Website www.foodstandards.gov.uk 
Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London WC2B 6NH

Independent food safety watchdog set up by Act of Parliament in 2000 to protect the public's health and consumer interests in relation to food.  Major areas are enforcement, labelling, healthier and safer eating, and science.  Separate offices for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Website gives A to Z of FSA work areas, with contact details for each.  If you can't see the one you need, call the switchboard.  Between 2001 and 2006, key aims are to: reduce foodborne illness by 20% by improving food safety right through the food chain; help people eat more healthily; promote honest and informative labelling to help consumers; promote best practice in the food industry; improve enforcement of food law; earn people's trust by action.  Eat Smart, Play Smart teaching resource and lesson plans to help children understand the need for healthy diets and how to choose a good balance.  Five-week 'Get Cooking' toolkit to teach young people, broadly between the ages of 14 and 25, some basic cooking skills in a community setting, aiming to give them a sense of achievement, increased confidence to cook, and an enjoyable experience.  Info on GM content in foods.  Link to www.eatwell.gov.uk (section 420) to help people understand food labelling.  (Updated May 2005)

Forestry Commission

Tel 0131 334 0303  Fax 0131 314 6152
Website www.forestry.gov.uk  Email nationaloffice.fce@forestry.gsi.gov.uk 
Silvan House, 231 Corstorphine Road, EDINBURGH EH12 7AT

Government department responsible for forestry policy.  Aims to develop and promote sustainable forest management, protect, expand and enhance economic value of Britain's forests and woodlands; conserve and improvebiodiversity, landscape and cultural heritage; develop woodland recreation opportunities; and increase public understanding and community participation in forestry.   Believes in teamwork, professionalism, respect, communication, learning and creativity.  Search on website for 'recycling' brings some interesting information.  Conservancy and Forest District office addresses on website.   England Office (woodland grant schemes): Great Eastern House, Tenison Road, Cambridge CB1 2DU, Tel 01223 314546, Fax 01223 460669.  (Updated May 2005)

Government Offices for the Regions  see ODPM

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Tel 0207 717 6000 Fax 0207 717 6717
Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge, LONDON SE1 9HS

Executive branch of the Health & Safety Commission, responsible for administration of The Health & Safety At Work Act and for general review of health and safety legislation. It operates at a number of divisions which include Safety Policy, covering transport of dangerous substances and explosives; Chemicals and Hazardous Installations; Nuclear Safety.

Highways Agency

www.highways,gov.uk  Email ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk 
08457 50 40 30  (8am-8pm Mon-Fri, 9-5pm weekends and Bank holidays)
St Christopher House, Southwark Street, LONDON SE1 0TE

Executive Agency of Department for Transport (DfT) responsible for planning, operating, engineering, maintaining and improving the strategic (trunk) road network in England.  Aim: "Safe roads, reliable journeys, informed travellers".  Builds working relationships and shares experience with overseas road administrations.  Information on website about extensive use of recycled materials in roadbuilding.  New 2-year project will study roads that heat themselves in winter, cool themselves in summer and use excess energy to heat homes.  Energy collectors will be installed beneath a motorway service road to absorb heat from the road surface, store it as energy and use it to heat the road in winter, preventing the build-up of ice or snow. Test site near M1 Toddington Services from June 2005.   HA also supplies 24hr traffic updates, 08700 660 115.   (Updated May 2005)

Home Office

Tel - General Enquiries 0870 000 1585  9 - 5, Mon - Fri  Fax 020 7035 4745
Hard of hearing Textphone 020 7035 4742
Website www.homeoffice.gov.uk   Email public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk  
Direct Communications Unit, 2 Marsham Street, LONDON SW1P 4DF

Responsible for internal affairs in England and Wales not assigned to other government departments, particularly those concerned with community and race; research, development and statistics; administration of justice; criminal law; police; probation, passports and visas; immigration and nationality; civil defence etc.  Also concerned with removal of human remains, cremation policy and burial.  (Updated May 2005)

Natural England
Website www.defra.gov.uk/rural/ruraldelivery/natural-england.htm 
New integrated agency to be established by 2007, comprising: English Nature; landscape, access and recreation elements of the Countryside Agency; and environmental land management functions of the Rural Development Service.  From April 2005 these agencies are working together under a common vision to deliver change for the environment and improve service delivery.   This single independent statutory organisation will champion integrated resource management, nature conservation, biodiversity, landscape, access to the countryside, open-air recreation, understanding and enjoyment of nature.  It will also assist social and economic well-being through managing the natural environment.  
It will have all the powers of the existing bodies including awarding grants, giving advice and information, designating Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, managing National Nature Reserves, and enforcing associated regulations.  Natural England will work in partnership with the Environment Agency, who will continue to lead on environmental protection and improvement of soil, air and water, and the Forestry Commission, who will continue to lead on sustainable forest management.  (Updated May 2005)

National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP)
Tel 0121 766 4560  Fax 0121 772 1802
Website www.nisp.org.uk  Email enquiries@nisp.org.uk 
Unit F4, The Arch, 48-52 Floodgate Street, BIRMINGHAM B5 5SL

A business-led initiative helping to connect businesses from different sectors to improve resource efficiency and cut waste, saving costs.  Between Apr and Sep 2005, in one region, has helped deliver: 27m cost savings to industry; 25 new businesses; diverted 78,000 tonnes from landfill, 200,000 tonnes CO2 reduction; 2m capital investment in reprocessing/recycling; saved 173 jobs.  Resources can be raw materials, by-products, people, skills, logistics, transport, waste, energy, and water.  Symbiosis: "the coming together of dissimilar organisms in a mutually beneficial relationship" - building networks is how nature works.   Aims over 3 years to ensure: at least 100,000 tonnes of waste is diverted from landfill in each region each year;  CO2 emissions are reduced by 600,000 tonnes a year; 40m of private investment is brought into waste projects; industry saves 10m a year through improved waste and resource management; 300 jobs are created and 300 secured.   Seeks councils to act as trailblazers to work in partnerships with business to reduce, reuse, remanufacture and recycle waste and develop Materials Resource Strategies for environmentally and economically beneficial resource management - this includes procurement of recycled and sustainably produced products, and linking up waste producers with planners and procurers.  Help and training offered in identifying and taking forward opportunities.  Case studies on website.  Funded through DEFRA's BREW (Business Resource Efficiency and Waste) programme, and working across various government agencies and departments.  Operates in 9 UK regions including Wales.  London launch was 27 Sep 2005 - contact Pallab Chatterjee, NISP London Region Co-ordinator, c/o WSP Environmental, Buchanan House, 24-30 Holborn, London EC1N 2HS, Tel 020 7314 5145, Email london@nisp.org.uk   Separate programme for Scotland (SISP).  (Updated Oct 2005)

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM)
Tel 020 7944 4400 (enquiry helpdesk 830-5 Mon-Fri)  Fax 020 7944 9622
Website  www.odpm.gov.uk  
26 Whitehall, LONDON SW1A 2WH

Aims 'to create prosperous, inclusive and sustainable communities for the 21st century where people want to live, that promote opportunity and a better quality of life for all.'   This 'requires a step change in the way our housing and communities are planned, designed and built.  But it is about much more than bricks and mortar.  It needs: good governance,  public participation and partnership working, civic pride, learning from mistakes of the past and linking social, economic and environmental programmes.'   To contact different departments see website for emails etc.   Areas covered include: building regulations, civil resilience, fire, homelessness, housing, local government, neighbourhood renewal, planning, regeneration, regional policy (includes regional development agencies and regional assemblies), science and research, social exclusion, 'sustainable communities' (includes proposed growth areas), urban policy.   Planning Directorate: Zone 4/E2, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU, Tel 020 7944 8771,  Fax 020 7944 4591, email colin.main@odpm.gsi.gov.uk    Links to the 9 government regional offices from www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm_govoffices/documents/page/odpm_govoff_600105.hcsp   (Updated May 2005)

OFWAT (Office of Water Services)

Website www.ofwat.gov.uk  Email
Tel 0121 625 1300 / 1373  Fax 0121 625 1400
Centre City Tower, 7 Hill Street, BIRMINGHAM, West Mids B5 4UA
Contacts listed on website

Responsible for monitoring activities of companies appointed as water and sewerage undertakers, including charges and standards for services; encouraging economy and efficiency in the supply industry; adjudicating in certain disputes between companies and their customers.  Vision: a water industry that delivers a world-class service, representing best value to customers now and in the future.  Mission:  to regulate in a way that provides incentives and encourages the companies to achieve a world-class service in terms of quality and value for customers in England and Wales.  Website incorporates WaterVoice - aim: to be an effective and influential voice for water and sewerage customers in England and Wales, promoting their interests in respect of price, service and value for money.  Email enquiries@watervoice.org.uk   Phone and contact details for 10 regions on website.   For monitoring of water resources and flooding see Environment Agency(Updated May 2005)

Planning Directorate 
see ODPM

Regional Government Offices 
see ODPM


WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme)
Helpline freephone 0808 100 2040  Switchboard Tel 01295 819900   Fax 01295 819911 / 819917
Email  helpline@wrap.org.uk   Website  www.wrap.org.uk
The Old Academy, 21 Horse Fair, BANBURY, Oxon OX16 0AH

Not-for-profit body in the private sector, set up to remove barriers to sustainable waste minimisation (promotes home composting, retail and real nappies), re-use and recycling.  Works / liaises with community, public, private, and recycling and secondary materials sectors.  Seeks innovators and partners to accelerate resource efficiency, and create and develop stable, efficient markets for recycled materials and products.  Recycled Products Guide www.recycledproducts.org.uk is an easily searchable directory of over 3200 recycled products, from watering cans to clothing and waste bins to fences; runs forums, and info on recycled materials and related websites at http://www.recycledproducts.org.uk/buy-recycled/links.asp#top .  Facilitates tenders and grants in many areas.   Working on glass, plastics, wood, paper, organics, aggregates, and other materials.  ROTATE (Recycling and Organics Technical Advisory Team) supports and advises local authorities on separate collection of dry recyclables and organic wastes; 'hands on' support customised to councils' needs;  Organics composted products information service.  eQuip Residual Value Guarantee (RVG) scheme helps recycling companies secure finance by guaranteeing future residual value of machinery, set up with a panel of banks and leasing companies who lease to the recycling sector.  Materials Pricing Report (produced by ICIS-LOR for WRAP) has up-to-date info on market prices of recyclables, to assist buying, and where to sell, recyclable materials.  AggRegain Service (section 21), uses Aggregates Levy funds for research / action to reduce demand for primary materials by encouraging aggregate reuse and recycling.  Recycle Now consumer awareness campaign launched 2004 (section 200).  Useful website has links to these schemes, and materials, business & finance, and procurement sections.  Supported by funding from DEFRA, the DTI and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (see WasteBook entries under Central Government).  (Updated May 2005)