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ARCHIVE: Waste controls and permits

This page provides information on current policy developments affecting those who keep, produce, carry, treat, recover or dispose of waste (excluding householders producing household waste).

Environmental Permitting

As of April 6 2008, the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (as amended) are being replaced by the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007.  There will no longer be separate regulation regimes for waste management and PPC activities, with both being regulated by way of Environmental Permits.

An licence environmental permit is a legal document, issued under Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007. Environmental Permits are issued by the Environment Agency and work to ensure that the authorised activities do not cause harm to the environment or endanger human health.

Exemptions from Environmental Permitting

EU Member States have the discretion to provide exemptions from the need for a permit for certain waste recovery activities, and disposal activities at the place of production.  The exemptions system is intended to be a light touch regulatory regime that aims to encourage low risk waste recovery operations.  It is therefore less onerous on industry than environmental permitting in terms of what is needed when registering, and there are fewer requirements on the regulator in terms of what it needs to do to ensure compliance. 

Activities currently exempt are listed in Schedule 3 to the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007.  You are required to register with the appropriate authority if you are undertaking or planning to undertake one of these activities.

  • Defra, the Environment Agency and the Welsh Assembly Government are currently undertaking a review of the exemptions from environmental permitting.  The aim of the review is to provide a more risk-based and proportionate approach to the regulation of waste recovery and disposal operations, complementing the new environmental permitting system.

Further details on the review, including key documents and progress to date, can be found via the link below

Planning consent and pollution control permits

Pollution control permits are required for waste management plants, redevelopment of brownfield sites and many non-waste related activities. Permitting responsibilities are largely discharged by the Environment Agency, other than for small scale facilities where the local authority is the regulator.

The interface between planning and pollution control regimes is complex and developers/ operators can be subject to overlapping requirements – adding unnecessary burdens to both industry and the regulators, and increasing the costs of development.  These issues have been the focus of concern from stakeholders during the transition to the new Environmental Permitting system and were also identified by the Davidson Review (2006) on implementing EU legislation.

Communities and Local Government (CLG) and Defra have carried out a joint consultation to identify options for making the interface work better. They have also commissioned a report, Improving the way the regimes work together in delivering new development, which sets out ideas for the way forward. CLG and Defra have published the Government's response to the consultation, taking into account the recommended approach in that report.

Hazardous Waste Exemptions Review

The Government and the Welsh Assembly Government issued a consultation in 2005 regarding a review of a number of exemptions to the waste management licensing system. The exemptions which were reviewed were principally those which cover hazardous waste, although where these exemptions include non-hazardous wastes they were also addressed.

Following responses to the consultation, draft regulations revising Schedule 3 to the Waste Licensing Regulations 1994 were submitted to the European Commission for approval by Member States through the Technical Adaptation Committee process as required by Article 3 of the Hazardous Waste Directive. Approval has been secured for these regulations and they are now being implemented as part of the new Environmental Permitting Regulations.

The revised exemptions are due to come into force on 6 April 2008.

The source segregation requirement in Paragraph A of Schedule 3 to the Environmental Permitting Regulations Regulations 2007

In the light of responses to a 2005 consultation on the source segregation requirement for aerobic and anaerobically digested waste compost, liquor or digestate spread to agricultural land, the Government has concluded that the source segregation requirement should remain in place as a temporary safeguard to protect the environment and human health against the landspreading of any sub-standard wastes to agricultural land. However, the Government views this as an interim measure, and is working to find a longer term, more sustainable solution that will encourage the development of technologies to produce high standard outputs which could be safely spread to land.

Further information

See also

Page last modified: 10 April 2008
Page published: 5 February 2003