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Obtaining a Local Area Agreement

Obtaining a Local Area Agreement can be the solution to help waste sites maintain compliance during unprecedented circumstances. At a local level and on a case-by-case basis, an agreement is made between the operator and the regulator. Wiser Environment has experience in negotiating these agreements on behalf of the waste operator; considering them to be a viable means of implementing alternative measures to limit the impact to the environment.

In the current climate, waste operators are under pressure from all angles. Sites are closing, maintaining technical competence is increasingly difficult and there are delays to requests and permit applications, to name but a few. In order to continue protecting the environment and avoid breaching breach their permit conditions, waste operators need support.

The permitting team at Wiser Environment has identified a potential solution to this growing pressure. With the help of Wiser, businesses where compliance is proving difficult should contact the Environment Agency (EA) and request to agree temporary alternative measures. This process is referred to as a Local Area Agreement (LAA) and is held between the permitted site and its Local Officer (sometimes referred to as a Site Responsible Officer). The LAA can authorise the site to operate outside of particular permit conditions, provided this is justified and approved. The following are potential examples of LAAs:

  • Reduced frequency of waste return submissions. 
  • Relaxation of monitoring requirements. 
  • Extensions to waste storage time-limits. 
  • Increasing the quantity of waste allowed on the site.
  • Changes to waste storage locations.
  • Storing waste outside of the permit boundary.

However, these alternative measures do come with restrictions. For example, there may be time constraints or a demand for additional reporting. These restrictions are in place to mitigate the potential risk to the environment.

Obtaining a Local Area Agreement

When working towards achieving an LAA, the Wiser permitting team will identify and clearly define where the operator needs regulatory support. This is an important step as it is likely that the LAA have a limited scope. After clearly defining the problem, Wiser and the operator will work together to create an alternative measure solution and embed actions to mitigate risk. The final step is to submit the LAA proposal in full to the EA and request their response.

The key part of this advice is to act transparently and proactively. From the EA’s point of view, they have to consider the potential risks and the limitations caused by these unusual circumstances. If the operator can demonstrate that they have taken into account and planned for all reasonable factors, then the EA are more likely to acknowledge the proposal.

Wiser has first-hand experience in implementing workable LAAs. Furthermore, the permitting team are ready and available to liaise with the EA on the operator’s behalf. For more information about how waste operators can protect their businesses through LAAs, contact Wiser Environment or call on 01480 462232.