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Insights // 26 February 2020

Progress on Standard Rules Under Environmental Permitting Regulations

Partner Karen Jones, head of our Planning and Environmental Law team, provides an update on proposals following Defra’s public consultation on reducing crime at sites handling waste.

Following Defra’s public consultation on reducing crime at sites handling waste and introducing fixed penalties for waste duty of care (considered in Waste Planning Issue 127 of February 2018) a further consultation was issued on 1 October 2019. It is proposed by means of Standard Rules Consultation no 21, to first, withdraw three exemptions, T8 (mechanically treating end-of-life tyres), T9 (recovering scrap metal), and U16 (using depolluted end-of-life vehicles for parts). Secondly, to revise certain exemptions including reducing waste quantities (such as paper) and removing waste types (mattresses), U1 (use of waste in construction), T6 (treating waste wood and waste plant matter), T12 (manually treating waste), D7 (burning waste in the open), S1 (storage in secure containers) and S2 (storage in a secure place). Thirdly, restrictions on how many exemptions can be registered at the same place are proposed; and, fourthly, restrictions on exemptions at sites that hold a waste operations permit.

If these proposals are accepted, it will mean that more activities are regulated by environmental permits. This results in pollution risks being better controlled, but to ensure minimisation of the administrative burden on business, the Environment Agency intend to make the changes by standard rules environmental permits under their powers in the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016. This will make applying for and determining applications in respect of the activity in question more straightforward and less administratively cumbersome.

The new standard rules proposed are for operators of waste sites currently operating under exemptions T8 (tyre recycling), T12 (for mattress recycling), and T4 (for paper and cardboard baling).

If an operator carries out activities outside the standard rules, it must apply for a bespoke permit. Standard rules permits can only be granted where the regulated facilities have one single legal person as the operator.

The Agency specifically seek the views of business on the withdrawal of the T8 exemption (mechanically treating end-of-life tyres) and a new standard rules set allowing the operator to operate a tyre-recovery facility. This would be to a limit of 3,500 tonnes of waste each year and a storage limit at any one time of 60 tonnes, where treatment is only for waste recovery is indoors and the removal of mattresses as a waste type under T12 (manually treating waste) and S2 (storage in a secure place). The standard rules will allow the operator to operate a mattress-recovery facility at a specified location and accept mattresses up to 3,500 tonnes of waste each year with a storage limit of 220 tonnes at any one time. Treatment is limited to specified activities and must be for waste-recovery only.

Finally, there is a proposal to significantly reduce the quantity limits for paper and cardboard allowed under the T4 (preparatory treatments) exemption. Where a site will no longer qualify for the exemption, the standard rules will allow the operation of a paper, cardboard and plastic recovery facility at a specified location a limit of 75,000 tonnes of waste each year and storage of no more than 1,500 tonnes of waste on site at any one time which must be stored inside.

It is proposed to charge a fee to precisely cover the regulatory costs incurred by the Agency to include a fee for the assessment of a fire prevention plan.

In addition to the new standard rules sets, the Agency propose revisions to add to other rule sets to allow household amenity sites to accept waste tyres and to receive mixed construction and demolition type wastes.

The consultation is an opportunity to comment on the potential effects of the changes on business. The important consideration is whether the new standard rules are appropriate and achieve the objective of reducing risks to the environment and human health. The consultation will close on 24 December 2019.

For further information or legal advice, please contact law@blandy.co.uk or call 0118 951 6800. 

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice. A similar article was first published in Waste Planning Magazine.

Karen Jones

Karen Jones

Partner, Planning & Environmental Law

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