Environmental Permitting Regulations

In 2010 DEFRA introduced the environmental permitting regulations (EPR) in England & Wales. The EPR initially combined the pollution prevention and control (PPC) and waste management licensing (WML) regulations. Their scope has since been widened to include water discharge and groundwater activities, radioactive substances and provision for a number of directives.

Cornerstones of the EPR are contained in statutory guidance produced by the Environment Agencyin 2011, such as Getting the Basics Right: How to Comply With Your Environmental Permit. The guidance was drafted to recognise the range of activities regulated through environmental permitting, both in terms of size and environmental risk.

Horizontal (H) guidance was produced in support of Getting the Basics Right. The purpose of horizontal guidance is to provide in depth information relevant to all sectors regulated under EPR, such as risk assessment, noise, odour, energy efficiency and the protection of controlled waters, and land.

For both standard rules and bespoke permits it is necessary to assess risks to the environment and human health when applying for a permit under the EPR.

In some casews a site condition report (SCR) will be required. In principle, a SCR is required for any facility regulated under the EPR, where there may be a significant risk to land or groundwater, or where one is necessary to satisfy requirements of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (2008/1/EC) (IPPC).

A SCR describes and records the condition of the land and groundwater at a site. It will enable an operator to demonstrate that they have protected land and groundwater during the lifetime of the site and it is in a satisfactory state when they come to surrender their permit.

IPPC is designed to prevent, reduce and eliminate pollution at source by using natural resources efficiently. It is intended to help industries operate in a more environmentally sustainable way.

The activities covered include those arising from energy, metals, mineral, chemical, waste management industries, as well as others such as paper/board production, slaughterhouses, food and drink production, intensive pig and poultry farms. To comply with the regulations, operators need a permit and must use best available techniques to prevent emissions to air, land and water or, where that is not practicable, they must reduce them to an acceptable level. They must also minimise waste and recycle it where they can, conserve energy, prevent accidents and limit their environmental consequences, and return the site to a satisfactory state after operations cease.

Competent authorities for these regulations are:-

  • The Environment Agency, which has responsibility for A(1) installations, the most polluting of the three industrial categories.
  • Local authorities, which have responsibility for A(2) and for Part B installations.

This legislation helps deliver the Water Framework Directive (EU 2000) objectives in a number of ways, including, for example, objectives for priority hazardous substances (cease or phase out discharges, emissions and losses) and by minimising other releases from major installations. The regulations are supported by Europe-wide guidance notes on best available techniques.

The Revised Waste Framework Directive (EU 2008) deals with the protection of human health and the environment against harmful effects caused by the collection, transport, treatment, storage and tipping of waste. Regulation under this legislation includes a system of permits and plans, which set out the essential factors to be taken into consideration in respect of the various waste disposal and recovery operations.

Waste operations that give rise to point and diffuse sources of pollution are controlled through the EPR. Part II of the Environmental Protection Act (1990) includes a prohibition on the general deposit of waste or knowingly causing or permitting such waste to be deposited in or on any land except in accordance with an appropriate environmental permit. This is reinforced by the waste duty of care, which includes a duty on those producing waste to ensure that it is only passed to an authorised person and to take appropriate reasonable measures to prevent the escape of waste from their control or that of another person.

At TGEN we offer a comprehensive range of services that support applications, maintenance and surrender of environmental permits within a wide range of industrial and commercial sectors.