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Environmental permitting

Discharge from a waste water pipe

The Environmental Permitting system simplifies permit applications, amendments and variations for both industry and regulator and thereby cuts unnecessary red tape. It allows regulators to focus resources on medium and high-risk operations whilst continuing to protect the environment and human health.

Environmental Permitting is one of Defra’s Better Regulation initiatives which aims to improve regulatory activities, cut admin burdens and focus on the delivery of a better service to customers.

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Key facts and figures

The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 have produced a single regulatory framework by streamlining and integrating

  • Waste Management Licensing,
  • Pollution Prevention and Control,
  • Water discharge Consenting,
  • Groundwater Authorisations, and
  • Radioactive Substances Regulation.

The following Directives were fully or partially transposed through the EP Regulations:

The introduction of this single more proportionate and risk-based system is expected to deliver savings of £120,000 to businesses and regulator.

What is the current situation and background

The Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 came into force on 6 April 2010.

The EP Regulations 2010 provide industry, regulators and others with a single extended permitting and compliance system and includes those systems for discharge consenting, groundwater authorisations and radioactive substances regulation. Environmental Permitting also provides a tool for delivering the permitting and compliance requirements of EU directives such as those relating to the Batteries Directive and Mining Waste Directive.

The permitting parts of the Batteries Directive were transposed through the Environmental Permitting Regulations on 5 May 2009. The Government transposed the Mining Waste Directive into UK law through the Environmental Permitting with the Environment Agency as the principal competent authority. The transposing regulations came into force on 7 July 2009.

We are also looking to incorporate Water Abstraction and Impoundment Licensing into the single permitting system for which the first session Water Bill might provide the necessary legislative power.

A post implementation review was carried out in 2010 to establish the effectiveness of the first phase of the Environmental Permitting Programme which merged Waste Management Licensing and Pollution Prevention and Control into a single system.  A summary of the post implementation review is now available:

The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 were due to come into force on 6th April 2011, however will now be delayed.  Ministers have indicated that they now want to agree a cross Government position on civil sanctions for England more generally before measures in specific sets of regulations are taken forward.  The  amending EP Regulations include a provision to enable the Environment Agency to make use of civil sanctions in addition to its existing enforcement powers.

We are anticipating a clearer picture to emerge early in March.  We will then lay the EP amending regulations in Parliament in Spring, with or without the civil sanctions provisions (laid later in the National Assembly for Wales due to Assembly elections but will include civil sanctions), coming into force on the next common commencement date, 1st October 2011.  Provisions transposing two articles from the Carbon Capture and Storage Directive will come into force during the Summer.

Please contact the regulator, the Environment Agency, for information on how to apply for, transfer and surrender a permit.

Local Authorities

Local authorities are responsible for regulating some 19,000 facilities, mostly to control air emissions, but in limited cases to enforce integrated pollution prevention and control. They also have limited responsibilities in relation to waste exemptions. See:

How did we get here?

We consulted stakeholders on our draft policy, regulations and the Impact Assessment and have taken account of your consultation comments and suggestions in the draft regulations where possible. We have incorporated any resulting changes into the government guidance, along with your feedback from the government guidance consultations.

Relevant legislation / regulations

Key publications, documents and Directions

Further information

Page last modified: 18 February 2011