Market News

 October 12, 2007
Streamlined permit system to start in April 2008

 Defra has confirmed that waste management licences and pollution prevention and control permits will be replaced by a single environmental permit from April 2008.

After four consultations, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said this week that the streamlined permit system will go ahead next year under its Environmental Permitting Programme.

It said businesses involved in industrial and waste activities will find it simpler and less costly to be environmentally responsible under new regulations.

Environment minister Joan Ruddock said: "This is a very welcome common sense move. It will increase clarity and cut the administrative burden for a number of organisations without compromising the existing high standards of protection for the environment and human health. Cutting red tape also means regulators will be able to spend more time pursuing the minority of operators who deliberately flout the rules."

Defra said the new system is expected to bring a number of benefits, including a simpler permit application process with less paperwork, much clearer guidance and more flexibility for businesses to make changes.

The new Environmental Permitting Regulations combine over 40 separate legal instruments into a single set of regulations. Defra said the regulations could see cost savings of around £76 million over the next decade.

When the new system comes into effect all existing waste management licences or pollution prevention and control permits will automatically become environmental permits. Outstanding applications will become environmental permits if the application is granted.

Planning controls will continue to apply parallel to activities covered by the new permits, Defra said, "ensuring the continued protection of the public and local communities".

"Standard rules"

As well as the single site-based environmental permit, there will be a new 'standard rules' permit for lower risk waste activities.

These are being developed in consultation with industry announced by the Environment Agency this week, and will be published by the Agency "well before the new system comes into force", Defra said.

The first consultation covers 28 low to medium risk operations that currently require a waste management licence, such as waste transfer stations, compost sites, civic amenity sites and mobile remediation plants.

These 28 waste management activities for this consultation, include:
  • Household, commercial, industrial and asbestos waste transfer station
  • Materials and Metals recycling facilities
  • Sewage sludge treatment
  • Clinical waste and healthcare waste transfer station
  • Mechanical biological treatment
  • Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) treatment facility

Environment Agency director of environment protection Tricia Henton explained: "Standard rules define how an operator must carry out an activity, for example by limiting the types of waste that can be brought onto site. If an operator wishes to carry out a certain activity, and can meet the standard rules, then they can apply for a standard permit.

"This will be cheaper and quicker than applying for bespoke permits - which require more detailed assessment - freeing up Environment Agency resources to target more risky operators and reducing the administrative burden on low-risk businesses," Ms Henton added.

Responses to the Agency's consultation should be submitted by December 6.