The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched a consultation on further amendments to the Environmental Permitting (EP) Regulations that aim to establish an environmental permitting framework that is easier to use and understand for businesses of all sizes. Meanwhile, the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) has now been transposed in England and Wales. The provisions largely came into force on 27 February 2013.

The consultation, launched by Defra, indicates that proposed changes would include:

  • the removal of the requirement for waste business to have to secure planning permission for certain waste operations before an environmental permit can be issued, reflecting the findings of the Penfold Review that the current system of requiring the prior grant of planning permission had no environmental benefit, and is impractical and inefficient;
  • a sole public register containing information connected with permit determination held by the Environment Agency. The proposal would result in the information being available from the Agency either on the internet or in hard copy free of charge, unless a copyright license has been requested;
  • the transfer of appeals related to environmental permitting matters from the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) to the environment jurisdiction of the General Regulatory Chamber (First tier Tribunal). The time limit for submitting an appeal would also reduce to 28 days;
  • simplifying regulators’ handling of standards rules permits to mean operators that hold a permit that is to be revised will no longer need to be notified three months in advance. The 28-day consultation period for minor changes to permit rules is also proposed to be eliminated;
  • the need to specify in a permit application any third-party that may need to grant rights of entry to the operator for clean up of off-site conditions. This proposal is intended to clarify the situation before a permit can be granted;
  • powers for the regulator to vary the terms of a permit while it is being transferred from one operator to another, or to allow for a suspension notice to be transferred; and
  • the ability of regulators to serve notices on directors of companies, as well as on secretaries and clerks, to increase flexibility.

The consultation closed on 4 April 2013. A draft of the amended regulations will be sent for parliamentary approval, with the aim of bringing revised regulations into force on 1 October 2013.

Meanwhile, the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) has now been transposed in England and Wales through the adoption of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2013. The provisions largely came into force on 27 February 2013.

Defra has also now published two guidance notes for the EP regime. The first guidance document updates the Core Guidance on the EP regime, reflecting the changes required to transpose the IED. The second guidance document focuses specifically on Part A installations, and explains how the IED applies to these installations in England and Wales.