Providing an update on the COVID-19 Regulatory Position Statements, the EA sent a letter to regulatory stakeholders. The letter reaffirms that the EA has provided the National Permitting Service with more resources to deal with the application backlog, extended the Continuing Competence deadline until 2021 and conducted a review of the COVID-19 Regulatory Position Statements.
In a letter jointly signed by the Environment Agency’s (EA) Director of Regulated Industry and Director of Water, Land and Biodiversity, the EA outlines its intention to keep regulatory stakeholders up-to-date with the changes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak; recognising the difficulties some operators face in maintaining compliance during the ongoing pandemic.
National Permitting Service backlog
The EA emphasised that its teams are now fully operational and many of its offices are back open. Despite challenging conditions, the EA has incorporated digital technologies to ensure that near-normal compliance and enforcement work can continue.
However, the EA has admitted that the outbreak has negatively impacted the National Permitting Service (NPS) and its ability to process permit applications. The regulator has calculated that it is currently overwhelmed and receives over 1,000 applications a month. In response, the EA has reallocated Area Teams to support NPS directly.
According to Wiser Environment’s sources, the NPS currently has an allocation stage queue of up to 23 weeks. Notably, the average timescale for a bespoke permit to start the “duly making” process is now 18-20 weeks.
|Application Type||Current Average Time to Initial Allocation|
|New Standard Rules||8-10 Weeks|
|New Bespoke||18-20 Weeks|
|Admin Variation||6-8 Weeks|
|Minor Variation||19-21 Weeks|
|Normal Variation||21-23 Weeks|
|Substantial Variation||21-23 Weeks|
|Medium Combustion Plant||19-21 Weeks|
At the start of the lockdown in March, Continuing Competence test centres closed and in June a small number of these test centres reopened with capacity restrictions. As a consequence, the EA has now agreed to extend the deadline for Continuing Competence compliance until the 1st of January 2021,
Waste industry managers whose Continuing Competence is due, have until the end of the year to take and pass the Continuing Competence Test. Wiser Environment recommends that operators book their test as soon as possible and to keep their local regulatory officer updated.
COVID-19 Regulatory Position Statements
Additionally, the EA published time-limited COVID-19 Regulatory Position Statements (RPS) to support the industry; providing operators with some compliance wiggle room. The EA outlines that the COVID-19 RPSs help operators to “minimise risks to the environment and human health where compliance with certain regulatory requirements may not be possible”. Moving forward, the EA intends to continually review each RPS; reinstating or extending particular COVID-19 RPSs should the need arise.
Expiry dates for COVID-19 RPSs
|RPS Number||Description||Expiry Date|
|RPS C1||Cleansing and PPE waste at a healthcare waste management facility||31/03/2021|
|RPS C2||Exceeding waste storage limits at permitted sites because of COVID-19||30/09/2020|
|RPS C3||Water and Sewerage Company OSM and UWWTR sampling affected by COVID-19||30/09/2020|
|RPS C4||Incinerating specified healthcare wastes at a municipal waste incinerator||30/06/2020|
|RPS C5||PPE waste from home healthcare workers treating patients with COVID-19||31/03/2021|
|RPS C6||Storing treated sewage sludge you cannot move because of COVID-19 restrictions||30/09/2020|
|RPS C7||Monitoring emissions from some environmental permitting activities||30/09/2020|
|RPS C8||Social distancing when signing and handing over waste transfer and consignment notes in person||31/03/2021|
|RPS C9||COVID-19 and packaging waste: registering as a packaging producer||08/07/2020|
|RPS C10||Reporting for installations, radioactive substances and waste permits||30/09/2020|
|RPS C11||Emissions to air from large combustion plant during black start events||31/07/2020|
|RPS C12||COVID-19 and spreading slurry or milk on land, or storing slurry||30/09/2020|
|RPS C13||Accumulating radioactive waste that you cannot transfer because of COVID-19||31/03/2021|
|RPS C14||COVID-19 and delaying hazardous waste consignee returns||31/07/2020|
|RPS C15||COVID-19 and exceeding permit limits for medical use of radioactive substances||31/03/2021|
|RPS C17||COVID-19 and storing waste at unpermitted sites due to exceeding your storage limits||30/09/2020|
|RPS C18||Emissions to air from Large Combustion Plant in the Transitional National Plan||30/11/2020|
|RPS C20||Monitoring emissions from some environmental permitting activities||31/01/2021|
EA letter to regulatory stakeholders – Additional support available at Wiser
To support the industry’s recovery from the COVID-19 setback, Wiser Environment is ready and available to help. In cooperation with clients, Wiser’s experienced team can represent waste businesses and ensure they receive the regulation they need. For more information contact Wiser Environment or call on 01480 462232.