'Work within green laws to save practices thousands'

Practices could save thousands of pounds a year by paying closer attention to environmental legislation, experts say.

The environmental law website www.NetRegs.gov.uk has opened a healthcare section for practices concerned with avoiding fines and needless charges for breaching green laws.

'Healthcare centres and general practices' brings together what a practice needs to know to stay on the right side of green legislation.

'Last year small businesses were fined £2.4 million for breaches of environmental law,' said Richard Martin, programme manager for NetRegs, a partnership between the Environment Agency and its Scottish and Northern Irish counterparts.

'The number of prosecutions and the size of the fines are tending to increase,' he said.

Environmentally friendly practices can use the NetRegs site to avoid needless charges, Mr Martin said.

'A practice could save hundreds of pounds by segregating its own clinical waste rather than paying the carrier.'

He urged practices to register to the site to receive email updates of changes to green legislation. Businesses using monthly NetRegs updates save £2,615 a year in staff time identifying new green requirements.

A GP survey in 2007 found that few practices are environmentally friendly but many would like to be.

Dr Mark Thompson's Rhayader Surgery in Powys has developed a 12-point green policy.

With Carbon Trust endorsement, the policy is set to be rolled out locally by Powys Local Health Board.

'We offset the higher cost of buying electricity on the green tariff by cutting our use. We have an electricity monitor in the waiting room,' Dr Thompson said.

Dr Thompson runs his car on vegetable oil and asks patients who come for travel advice to consider offsetting the carbon footprint of their journey.

prisca.middlemiss@haymarket.com

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