A large number of waste companies will require more expensive permits and will be regulated to ‘more exacting standards’ under new rules coming into effect over the next year.
Around 2,500 waste operators are likely to be affected by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), new Environment Agency (EA) calculations have revealed.
The IED specifies a range of industrial processes and activities that need to be regulated as ‘installations’. Some activities listed in the Directive have not previously required an installation permit.
The EA screened the waste industry to see which operators would be affected. They found that:
- 767 sites are caught by the new IED requirements
- A further 1,689 sites could “possibly” be affected
- This means around 9,000 existing waste operators are not caught by the IED
Many of the activities that are now affected, such as composting and metal shredding, have been regulated up until now under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 as ‘waste operations’.
The EA said: “The difference between an ‘installation’ permit and a ‘waste operation’ permit is that an ‘installation’ permit prescribes more exacting environmental standards and is subject to higher charges due to the potentially greater environmental impact and thus increased regulatory effort required of us.”
By 7 July 2015 all affected activities must have an installation permit.
The EA stressed that although firms can continue to operate lawfully under existing permits until then, pre-application discussions, application preparation, submission and determination all need to take place before that date.
The agency added: “It is imperative, if you are to remain legal after 7 July 2015, that you submit your application to vary your permit at the earliest opportunity.”
The Regulations set three deadlines for applications:
- 30 September 2014 - for gasification of fuels other than coal, biological processing of chemicals, non-hazardous waste recovery, or a mix of recovery and disposal
- 1 January 2015 - for hazardous waste recovery, non-hazardous waste disposal, wood preservation
- 31 March 2015 - for hazardous waste storage, independent waste water treatment works
The EA will give written advice to all operators it believes might be caught by the new regulations.
Importantly, it will defer a decision on how to address pre-treatment for incineration activities, because “there remains significant uncertainty about these sites – in or out of IED scope, and as they present around 50% of the total sites it’s important we get it right and target our resources wisely.”
Furthermore, an EA spokesperson told MRW: “The number of waste operation sites that will fall within the IED is likely to fall further, as some operators choose to limit the scale of their operations to below the IED capacity thresholds.”
A Renewable Energy Association (REA) spokesperson told MRW: “It is very important that waste recycling and recovery companies likely to be affected by this engage with the EA, for two reasons.
“Firstly, as the update makes clear, this is vital to ensure continued compliance with the IED in 2015 onwards.
“Secondly, the EA is working with REA and other stakeholders to ensure that the IED achieves its environmental objectives (reduced emissions of e.g. bioaerosols etc.) without placing unduly onerous regulations on our members that would prevent them delivering their environmental benefits (reduced waste to landfill, low carbon energy etc.)”
The IED replaced seven existing EU Directives including the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPC). The Directive was transposed in England by amendments to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 (the EPR 2010), which came into force on 27 February 2013.