Understanding the importance of environmental legal registers in UK businesses

In the dynamic landscape of business operations, compliance with legal regulations stands as a cornerstone for sustainable growth. In order for businesses to understand their own compliance and demonstrate it to ISO auditors, regulators and other stakeholders, they require an up-to-date, robust and clear legal register.

This blog outlines the key requirements of a legal register and what makes it a viable tool to assess your various business functions. Furthermore, legal registers are a mandate when it comes to filing for some important ISO certifications like:

  • ISO 14001 – an essential element of your environmental management system (EMS)
  • ISO 50001 – for your Energy management systems (EnMS)
  • ISO 45001 – important for occupational health and safety management systems (OHS)

What is a legal register?

A legal register is a record or database that lists and summarises the rules and laws relevant to a specific company or organisation. It acts as a tool to help businesses in keeping track of their legal responsibilities. Furthermore, a legal compliance register ensures that they adhere to all applicable laws and regulations.

Typically, a legal register contains the following details:

  • A list of the laws and rules that the company must abide by.
  • A summary of the principal obligations and conditions imposed by each law or regulation.
  • The dates on which new regulations were made or laws were modified.
  • Specifics of any licences needed to operate in accordance with the rules and laws.
  • A history of any legal compliance measures that were implemented.

It’s not easy

Creating and maintaining an environmental legal register is a complex process. It requires keeping up-to-date with changes in laws and regulations. Additionally, the register is required to be accurate and comprehensive at all times.

However, having a legal register is essential for managing legal risk and compliance with the law.

Environmental legislation is not simple. The amount of legislation that applies to your business will depend on a large number of factors, such as the location, operations undertaken by the organisation, or the number of employees it has.

Each piece of legislation is heavily nuanced and needs a keen eye to check exactly what applies, and how, and most importantly, understanding what you need to do about it to ensure compliance.

Did you know that you need to think about eels if you take a certain amount of water from natural sources? Or that certain hedges over 20 metres shouldn’t be trimmed between March and September to protect nesting birds? Some legislation will apply regardless of factors such as size, such as the Waste Duty of Care, that applies whether you’re thousands of employees, or a one-man-band.

What makes a good legal register?

A good environmental legal register should be comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date, and accessible. It should include information on all relevant environmental laws and regulations that apply to the business, as well as the actions taken by the business to comply with those requirements. Here are some key elements of a good environmental compliance register:

Identification of applicable regulations
A good environmental compliance register should identify all the environmental regulations that apply to the business. This should include not only national laws but also any regional or local laws that may apply.

Detailed requirements
The register should provide detailed information on the requirements under each regulation, including deadlines for compliance, reporting requirements, and any permits or licences required.

Compliance status
The register should include information on the compliance status of the business for each requirement, such as whether the business is in full compliance or if any corrective actions are required.

Tracking of changes
The register should be regularly updated to reflect changes in environmental regulations or updates to compliance status. This ensures that the register is always up-to-date and accurate.

The register should include a record of any environmental incidents, inspections, or audits, as well as any corrective actions taken. This provides a clear audit trail of the business’s environmental compliance history.

The register should be accessible to all relevant stakeholders within the business, including environmental, health and safety, and management teams. This ensures that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and can contribute to maintaining compliance.

How can iCOR help?

Our mission is to make it easy for businesses to harness the law so doing the right thing becomes exciting and, dare we say, enjoyable!

By completing a simple self-audit questionnaire, iCOR will build a custom legal register with legislation that is directly applicable to organisational activities and will help in understanding what is required in order to ensure and demonstrate compliance – without the requirement for a specialist consultant.

iCOR is designed to provide organisations with confidence in their compliance status, ultimately serving to:

  • Being able to demonstrate and evidence compliance against relevant environmental legislation
  • Manage and mitigate against the risk of causing pollution or environmental harm
  • Meeting the needs and expectations of stakeholders through transparent and robust governance and risk management
  • Showing progress towards net-zero, sustainable development and triple-bottom-line sustainability for people, the planet and profit
  • Increase education, engagement and collaboration amongst teams to improve environmental performance

To learn more, book a demo with a member of our team.