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EU and UK Policy that Implements Environmental Permitting

The Environmental Permitting Regulations were first released in 2007[i], then 2009[ii] they have since been updated in 2010[iii] .The 2010 Regulations have

“extended this common permitting system to seven other permitting regimes, covering over a million permits and exemptions”[iv]

The Environmental Permitting regulations have been transposed in the UK law from the IPPC Directive[v] the most recent version of which is 2008/1/EC.

Providing accurate critic of the Environmental Permitting Regulation is difficult, with approximately 500 pages of legislation for which there is no meaningful summary, the Regulation makes for rather stodgy digestion.

A good start point might be[vi] a 5 page booklet from DEFRA, which explains that the EPR aim is to;

“maintain a careful balance between human activity and environmental protection. [vii]

Environmental Permitting Regulations are an attempt to bring to together the myriad of licenses and permits that have been issued for various processes over the last few decades. Instead of separate licenses (waste management / abstraction) for  various activities such as emissions to air, land, or water EPR combines these under one “roof” creating a holistic approach, the result is;

“streamlined regulation of businesses by bringing clarity and cohesion to permitting regulation”

There are Standard Permits which cover most processes and Bespoke Permits for processes that don’t fall under a standard category.

More detailed guidance notes[viii] from DEFRA outline some examples of Some Standard Permitted Activities these might Include:

·         Chapter 1: Activities, Installations & Mobile Plant

·         Chapter 2: Production and Processing of Metals

·         Chapter 3: Mineral Industries

Each of these chapters is split down in to “Sub-sectors” for Example “Mineral Industries” is split down in to;

·         SECTION 3.1  - Production of Cement and Lime

·         SECTION 3.2  - Activities Involving Asbestos

·         SECTION 3.3  - Manufacturing Glass and Glass Fibre

·         . . . . . . . and so on

The clever bit is that you can have a combination of these activities and as long as they are on the same site and operated / regulated by the same company they will be grouped together under one licence. For example a mining company might have had discharge consent but no waste management licence, so instead of applying for one they pump mining slurry in to the river to get rid of it, providing they don’t breach EQS (which will not apply when the river is in flood for example[ix]) they can carry on with no waste management license.

Under EPR the holistic view stops this kind of behavior, the permit is based on an activity profile and as such “pass the buck” behaviour is very hard to achieve.

[i] http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/uksi_20073538_en_1   

[ii] http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2009/pdf/uksi_20093381_en.pdf

[iii] http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2010/draft/ukdsi_9780111491423_en_1

[iv] http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/policy/permits/documents/ep2010booklet.pdf

[v] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:024:0008:0029:EN:PDF

[vi] http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/policy/permits/documents/ep2010booklet.pdf

[vii] http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/policy/permits/documents/ep2010booklet.pdf