EPR amends may have far reaching consequences

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In late November 2018, DEFRA quietly laid before Parliament the Environmental Protection (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England and Wales) Regulations 2018. Despite the lack of fanfare accompanying their introduction, the amendments are likely to have far reaching consequences for waste sites…

The regulations implement a number of proposals made by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in their consultation at the beginning of the year, which sought to tackle waste crime and address poor performance in the waste industry. The amendments affect the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The amendments to the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) strengthen the assessment and enforcement of operator competence, and require that all waste sites operate in accordance with a written management system, with these amendments coming into force on 7th April 2019,

At the same time measures will be introduced that enable householders to be fined for fly tipping if found to have failed to exercise their duty of care.

Requiring a written management system

This EPR amendment now means that all operators manage and operate waste sites in accordance with a written management system that identifies and minimises the risks of pollution arising from their waste operations. It also requires that the operator periodically reviews the written management system and keeps it up to date. The requirement affects waste operations permitted prior to 6th April 2008 which do not have a permit condition referring to a written management system relating to pollution risks. It does not affect waste operations carried on at an installation or using mobile plant.

Charles Thomas, Consultancy Director, Wiser Environment says: “A written management system is one tool to help ensure that waste is managed without endangering human health and harming the environment whilst minimising the risk of fire. This has been a keystone of environmental permits for some time, but there has always been a disparity with some older permits which do not have the requirement of a written management system. Though not explicitly mentioned in the regulation, for those that manage combustible wastes, it is reasonable to assume that fire prevention measures will also need to be considered.”

Charles continues: “The Environment Agency’s hands have been tied when trying to regulate some permits issued before 2008. These amendments are evidently designed to redress the balance and shift the power to allow the regulator to regulate consistently across all sites.”

Improving technical competence

The EPR amendments will require the operator to periodically supply the EA (or Natural Resources Wales in the case of Wales) information that demonstrates that the operator complies with recognised competence standards.

These standards are the CIWM/WAMITAB Operator Competence Scheme (Version 9, September 2018) published by WAMITAB, or the Competence Management System: Requirements (Version 4, April 2015) published by Energy and Utility Skills.

Details of who provides technical competence must be supplied with each quarterly or annual waste return (as the case may be) from 7th April 2019.

If the operator is unable to demonstrate appropriate technical competence during the relevant period, they must also provide information to the regulator to that effect.

Georgina Leach, Senior Consultant, Wiser Environment says: “There is evidence that a small number of technically competent managers are providing cover for more sites than they could physically attend, an issue which the regulators quite rightly want to address. In recent times, the EA has developed a more accurate database of technically competent managers and for which sites they are responsible. These regulations will make this database more accurate and up-to-date, and help the regulators to build up a national picture of technically competent managers and compliance standards at waste sites”.

If operators need to demonstrate or improve competence of other staff members, then please find out how Wiser Training can assist with our WAMITAB assessment and qualification services or contact Wiser Training at training@wisergroup.co.uk.

Find out more

Find out more about Wiser Environment’s environmental permitting and consent services or contact us on 01480 462 232 if you want to discuss how these regulations may affect you.

A copy of the Environmental Protection (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England and Wales) Regulations 2018 can be found here.

Wiser will continue to review emerging information and guidance as it becomes available regarding the regulation and implementation of these changes. We will continue to provide updates and assistance where applicable but if you require further assistance in the meantime, please contact us on 01480 462 232.

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