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Fire prevention plans backed by sector

A requirement for fire prevention plans (FPPs) for sites that store combustible wastes will be implemented in the autumn following industry backing for proposals from the Environment Agency (EA).

The new regulations will include cover storage periods and maximum storage limits for waste wood. Distance from other buildings and throughput of material will affect the type of permit needed.

The move follows consultation on the Standard Rules for Permitting Regulations, held from November 2014 until March, which also covered a number of other activities (see box below). The impact of the Industrial Emissions Directive on those processing incinerator bottom ash will be subject to further consultation.

The EA says all 14 respondents to the consultation supported FPPs in principle and it will now introduce a twin-track approach:

  • new standard rules permits will require a FPP before the permit can be issued
  • existing standard rules permits will require a FPP as part of a phased programme or immediately after a fire

Some respondents were concerned about the minimum standards for stack dimensions and separation distances, but the EA says the new regime “will afford an appropriate and improved level of protection”.

“Our guidance does allow deviation, but operators must satisfy us that their approach gives equivalent or better protection than if they had applied our minimum standards,” the response adds.

FPPs will be approved by the EA. Some respondents argued that fire and rescue services were more appropriate but the EA rejects this proposal.

“The EA is responsible for protecting the surrounding environment and local community from the impact of waste activities carried out under a permit. This includes minimising the nature and scale of incidents, including fires.

“The EA cannot delegate that responsibility to others. We will continue to consult with the appropriate bodies including the fire and rescue service and Public Health England when assessing whether plans are satisfactory.”

The consultation covered:

  • Industrial Emissions Directive amendments affecting 12 rule sets
  • An FPP for existing sites storing combustible waste material, together with 21 replacement standard rules covering the same activities for new applications and additional amendments covering permitted storage periods and maximum storage limits for waste wood
  • An increase in the number of household waste packaging codes for civic amenity sites and metal recycling facilities
  • Asbestos waste transfer operations
  • A new standard rule allowing metal recycling and WEEE treatment activities to take place at the same site

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