Defra has consulted on proposals for regulations to amend environmental permitting to:
- make administrative changes to how environmental permits are issued
- introduce civil sanctions as an alternative to prosecution for environmental permitting offences under the regulations
- make changes to the regulation of anaerobic digestion
- make changes to the regulation of carbon capture and storage.
The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 are expected to come into force in October 2011.
Regulations for carbon capture and storage are expected to come into force in summer 2011.
What are the new environmental permitting regulations?
The proposed regulations will amend the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 to:
- allow the Environment Agency to issue fines and use other civil penalties for environmental permitting offences as an alternative to prosecution
- make it possible to keep an environmental permit in force when a sole permit holder dies
- make it easier to transfer a permit where the current operator cannot be found
- transfer responsibility from the Environment Agency to local authorities to regulate dust, odour etc from traffic travelling to and from landfill sites
- remove from regulation waste-derived fuels that are no longer classed as waste before they are burned
- make amendments to waste descriptions and codes for exempt waste operations
- clarify environmental permitting and marine licensing for waste activities in the marine environment
- facilitate the development of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants
- implement two articles of the EU Directive 2009/31 on carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The consultation also confirms that the government intends to extend environmental permitting to include water abstraction and impoundment and possibly other consenting regimes in the future.
What are the proposed changes for anaerobic digestion?
The following AD activities will be regulated by the Environment Agency as a waste operation that needs an environmental permit, rather than by Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive requirements:
- Gas production at AD plants treating biodegradable waste, where there is no combustion of the gas at the plant itself.
- Gas combustion at AD plants in appliances with a rated thermal input of less than 50 megawatts. This may also be regulated by your local authority as a Part B activity if you burn fuel in a boiler, furnace, gas turbine or compression ignition engine with a net rated thermal input of between 20 and 49 megawatts.
These changes are primarily administrative so you will not see a major change in how these activities are regulated.
What are the proposed changes for carbon capture and storage?
The proposed regulations will amend the Environmental Permitting Regulations to:
- make CCS from IPPC installations a listed activity that must meet IPPC requirements in its own right, ie separately to the IPPC installation
- allow carbon dioxide streams to be injected into geological formations for CCS, by making an exception to the ban on direct discharge of pollutants into groundwater
- avoid double regulation of offshore CCS activities by both the Environmental Permitting Regulations and the Offshore Combustion Installations (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Regulations 2001, by requiring a permit under the latter regulations only.
Who will the environmental permitting regulation proposals affect?
The proposals will affect:
- operators of activities requiring environmental permits
- operators of current or proposed AD plants
- operators who may be considering developing CCS facilities
- regulators such as the Environment Agency and local authorities
- others with an interest in environmental permitting and compliance, eg consumer groups, individuals living near to permitted facilities
The above information is courtesy of Netregs.
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