Thursday, 25 July 2013

Environmental Permit Regulations: 10 facts to know

     Environmental Permitting Regulations (2010) bring into England and Wales one permit and a common procedure to replace separate controls (mostly 2007 regulations) on waste, pollution, water discharge, groundwater activity, radioactive substances, and various directives including on mining.
2.   Those running ‘regulated facilities’, typically industrial, waste, intensive farming..., are required to hold a valid permit to legally conduct their business.

3.   By bringing a multitude of controls together EPRs aim for more efficient and effective organisation, cutting complexity, reducing rigidity, cutting ambiguousness and getting rid of unneeded bureaucracy, resulting in a more economic system that encourages best practice, centring on medium and high environmental risks.

4.   EPRs are enforced by sending out enforcement, suspension or revocation notices and ultimately criminal prosecution can be pursued.

5.   If a regulated facility has no permit, has breached conditions on a permit or has not responded as required to a previous notice an enforcement notice may be sent stating: the regulators view, describing the breach, what has to be done and by when (enforcement notices may be withdrawn and/or other notices sent as appropriate).

6.   The regulators  are the relevant local authority, such as Bristol City Council (pictured above) or the Environment Agency.
7.   If in the regulators view there is a risk of serious pollution then a suspension notice is sent out, suspending the permit, spelling out what the risks of serious pollution are, what steps need to be taken and the timescale of action (suspension notices may be withdrawn and indeed have to be when the regulator is confident that the steps spelled out have been taken).

8.   If the sending out of notices alone is insufficient then criminal prosecution can be pursued (though those operating/owning a regulated facility can appeal to the Secretary of State).

9.   Being found guilty in a Magistrates Court can result in a fine of up to £50,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 12 months, whilst being found guilty in a Crown Court can result in an unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

10. Defences possible in court include: emergency action was needed; all reasonable steps were taken; the owner/operator is someone else. 

Further information:

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