LCN recently heard of the prosecution of a London drycleaner for non-compliance with environmental permit regulations.The case, reported both on this site and in the August journal is believed to be the second of its kind in England.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to enforce such regulations, which stem from the Solvent Emissions Directive, and such prosecutions underline their seriousness in doing so.

Implementation of the Solvent Emissions Directive in the UK has not been an easy task for the drycleaning industry or for the local authorities charged with doing so.

Reports of drycleaners’ experiences at the TSA/Guild joint conferences during the early stages or implementation revealed that the processes involved in applying for a permit were often a learning curve for both parties.

Available guidelines were not always clear and at that time local authority personal sometimes had a limited understanding of what the drycleaning business involved although they were willing to learn.

For drycleaners, implementation can mean considerable investment as well as additional administration – more paperwork for a sector largely peopled by small and medium-size businesses and already overburdened in this respect.

However, complex though compliance may be, the regulations apply to every drycleaner

.LCN cannot comment on individual cases but in principle any drycleaner that persistently and deliberately avoids compliance is trying to gain an unfair advantage over the competition. Indeed at one industry conference, a speaker suggested that drycleaners should report any competitor known to be avoiding the regulations.

Of course each case of non-compliance will be different. Local authorities must always try and work with businesses to make sure they understand what is required and that they are given reasonable time to rectify any shortcomings.But in the end, prosecution may be the only way to gain the business’s compliance.

As a last resort it is justified morally as well as legally and only fair to those who have made every effort and put in the investment to make sure they have a permit to operate and abide by its conditions.

Janet Taylor –