The Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) require regulators, including the Environment Agency and Local Authorities, to control certain activities which could harm the environment or human health. The Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) were introduced in April 2007; combining the previous Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) and Waste Management Licensing (WML) regulations. The regulations have since been revised and widened to include additional activities such as water discharge, groundwater activities, radioactive substances etc.
You may need an environmental permit if you carry out an activity that could:
Pollute the air, water or land
Increase flood risk
Adversely affect land drainage
Such activities may include an industrial facility, manufacturer or other business that produces potentially harmful substances, such as a landfill site, food factory etc (known as an ‘installation’), a waste operation, a waste incineration plant, groundwater activities etc.
There are two types of Environmental Permit; Standard Rules and Bespoke. Standard Rules are available for specific activities, a list of which can be found on the Environment Agency’s website [www.environment-agency.gov.uk]. A Standard Rules permit is generally cheaper and quicker to obtain with pre-prepared risk assessments and a fixed set of standard rules that an operator must comply with. The rules have been designed to help the Environment Agency ensure that the operation does not cause pollution to the environment and give operators options on how best to achieve this. If your activity does not fit the conditions of a Standard Rules permit, a Bespoke Permit, tailored to your activity, is required. Bespoke Permits are costlier and more timely to apply for with several supporting assessments required, e.g. environmental risk assessments, a Site Condition Report and in some case, environmental baseline data.
We have gained considerable experience in assisting our Clients by preparing environmental assessments required to support an Environmental Permit application. As stated above, the level of assessment required will depend on the type of permit application and the proposed operations. However, to support a Bespoke Permit, there will typically be a requirement for the following:
Environmental Risk Assessment
Operational Risk Appraisal (OPRA)
The Site Condition Report and Environmental Risk Assessment are generally required to protect the condition of the site throughout the lifetime of the permit whilst the OPRA provides a risk rating which the Environment Agency can use to determine the application fee. This is heavily linked to the amount of regulatory resources the Environment Agency believes is required to regulate a particular site. We pride ourselves on preparing comprehensive, cost effective and compliant assessments and understand the importance of liaising with the Environment Agency from the outset to ensure a smooth application process, minimising potential delays. Each assessment is prepared in accordance with the Environment Agency’s specific horizontal guidance (H) and where available, in their preferred templates.
Some important points to consider:
Applying for a Standard Rules permit can save time and money; however, you need to be aware of the restrictions associated with the permit before applying. For example, the rules, volumes and risk assessment cannot be changed nor appealed against. You will need to consider whether the Standard Rules permit is suitable for your activity now and in the future. If you wish to change your operations in the future, you may have to apply to make it a Bespoke Permit instead.
Is the site already operational or currently vacant? Is there anyone available to speak to who is familiar with the site and the proposed operations? The more information that can be provided in relation to existing or proposed operations, training schemes, health and safety and environmental management systems the better informed the OPRA will be, thereby minimising the application fees.
Is there any previous site investigation data available? If not, is there a need for baseline data? The purpose of the baseline data is to allow a quantified comparison to be made between the site condition at the start of the permit and the state of the site at surrender. Baseline data is collected by means of an intrusive investigation. We often advise our clients as to whether baseline data would be required and/or beneficial and we find that early liaison with the Environment Agency can help inform this decision.