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Defra and DECC launch consultation on definition of AD

A consultation on environmental permitting (EP), which asks for a clear definition on anaerobic digestion (AD), has been launched by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The document, Environmental Permitting – consultation on further amendments to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, considers the possibility of an amendment to EP regulations in respect of gas produced by AD plants.

The consultation proposes that for AD plants where biogas is not combusted, full Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Regulations should not apply because the EP Regulations 2010 provide sufficient environmental protection.

The consultation proposes to exclude these plants from IPPC Regulations. But to make this amendment, the consultation calls for a definition of AD and proposes that the current definition in the EP Regulations is sufficient.

The EP Regulations define AD as: “The mesophilic and thermophilic biological decomposition and stabilisation of biodegradable waste which (a) is carried on under controlled anaerobic conditions, and (b) results in stable sanitised material that can be applied to land for the benefit of agriculture or to improve the soil structure or nutrients in land.”

Respondents to the consultation have until 26 November to make comments. They are asked: “Do you agree with the amendment proposed in respect of AD plants at which the produced gas is not combusted? If so, is the current definition of ‘anaerobic digestion’ in Schedule 3 of the Regulations sufficient for the purpose of the proposed amendment? If it isn’t, how should it be adapted?”

Commenting on the consultation, Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association chairman Lord Redesdale said: “This is a clear definition but it is up to the industry that it covers absolutely everything.

“We need to make sure there aren’t any new processes which are not covered by this definition because this could cause problems further down the line. At the moment we are happy with it, but we will need to look in to it in more detail and we will be asking our members to do the same.”

According to Redesdale, permitting regulations for AD can prove complicated because the technology falls under agriculture, energy and waste legislation.

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