Consultation No21 – The Environment Agency is seeking responses

The Environment Agency is seeking responses to its latest plan of action for transitioning from waste exemptions to environmental permits. Consultation No21 identifies an intention to supersede three waste exemptions and replace them with Standard Rules permits. These changes will have significant implications for operators who treat mattresses, paper and tyres.

At the present time, waste operators can – at no cost to their business – register for a relevant waste exemption for certain activities. Namely, T8 mechanically treating end-of-life tyres; T12 manually treating waste for mattress recycling; and T4 preparatory treatments for paper, cardboard and plastic sorting and baling. If this consultation document is enacted unchanged, then there will be an increased financial burden placed upon affected businesses.

Consultation No21

How waste exemptions site within wider Environmental Permitting

The different classes of regulation

This latest consultation primarily involves changes to waste exemptions. It forms a part of the wider action plan of reducing “crime at sites handling waste, and introducing fixed penalties for waste duty of care”.

To clarify, a Standard Rules permit is a type of consent to undertake certain specified waste activities that includes a predetermined set of rules and conditions defined by the Environment Agency. Their rationale for the shift from Waste Exemptions to Standard Rules is because it will reduce risks of pollution, fire and abandonment.

This means that waste operators on the front line will face increased costs and scrutiny. For example, restrictions on waste storage capacities and additional annual fees to cover the cost of regulation. It will also bring additional requirements such as Fire Prevention Plans and Technically Competent Management.

What to do next?

The Consultation No21 offers waste operators a chance to comment on the revised rules. We recommend that stakeholders review the following proposed permits and submit a response to the Consultation No21:

Once the Environment Agency has considered all the consultation responses, they aim to publish the revised Standard Rules by April 2020.

Getting ready for the transition

Here at Wiser Environment, we can help businesses seamlessly transition from Waste Exemptions to Standard Rules. We pride ourselves on removing the burden of dealing with the regulatory bodies and will see all applications through to its conclusion.

If you have any questions or queries about Environmental Permitting, then contact us or call Andrew Lake on 01480 462232.

Distinction for Jessica Webb

The Team at Wiser Environment congratulates Jessica Webb on her accomplishment in the field of flood risk management and aquatic science. Jessica has achieved a distinction with their Master’s thesis entitled: ‘Investigating the use of Runoff Attenuation Features (RAFs) to mitigate flood risk and improve water quality in the Alconbury Brook catchment, Huntingdon’.

Jessica and their Master's thesis

A proud Jessica Webb celebrating her MSc in Aquatic Science.

Researching at the University College London, Jessica collaborated with the Environment Agency to demonstrate how the application of RAF modifications can mitigate flood risk and deliver biodiversity benefits efficiently.

RAFs comprise large woody debris, woodland or ponds. Such features can help protect the natural function of catchments, rivers, floodplain and coasts.

Moreover, Jessica’s study spotlights the Alconbury Brook catchment. Here, the town of Alconbury Weston frequently sufferers from flooding. The general consensus is that a suite of catchment-wide pond RAFs will lessen the risk of flooding. Jessica’s research challenges that consensus.

Jessica identified that targeted distribution of storage, rather than catchment-wide storage, was more effective and efficient at mitigating flood risk.

Through the application of novel natural flood management modelling, Jessica was able to establish that strategically placing numerous small RAFs in the headwaters reduced peak flow downstream. For a 1 in 5-year event, a 4.4% reduction results in a delayed hydrograph peak of 4 hours. This could significantly help to alleviate flood risk in Alconbury Weston.

Therefore, these results reveal that there is potential to mitigate flood risk in the catchment. Furthermore, a purposefully designed network can function as an interconnected system that will deliver improvements to water quality and biodiversity.

Jessica celebrated achieving an MSc in Aquatic Science by posting on her LinkedIn page and commending the support received throughout her Postgraduate studies:

“I am eternally grateful to the Environment Agency who made this research possible, and to my friends and family for their love and continued support. Thank you, UCL for a fantastic academic year!”