Changes proposed for exemptions of environmental permitting in UK

Proposed changes to the system of environmental permit exemptions will increase waste recovery and recycling, while maintaining high levels of environmental protection and saving businesses money, according to Joan Ruddock, environment minister said.

Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and the Environment Agency are reviewing which waste handling businesses can operate under exemptions, and which require a permit.

An exemption allows certain waste management activities to be carried out without an environmental permit (formerly known as a Waste Management Licence). Exemptions do not free an operator from regulatory control, but provide a proportionate level of regulation for low risk activities which do not pollute the environment or pose a risk to human health.

Joan Ruddock said: “Environmental permits are an essential tool in protecting the environment from the impacts of waste, but the system must be fair, simple and proportionate to risk. The changes we are proposing in the consultation we have published deliver all those things. Our estimate is that they will also offer real savings for some businesses by cutting red tape and making waste management more efficient, which could be as much as £45m over three years.”

The review will be of interest to any business recycling, re-using or disposing of any kind of waste. Most businesses currently operating under an exemption will continue to do so, but under the new proposals businesses may need to renew and re-register their exemptions more frequently to ensure waste registers are up to date. Some businesses that have previously operated under a waste exemption may now need to apply for a permit, while those with an Environmental Permit may be able to register an exemption. It is proposed that the cost to the Environment Agency of regulating the system will be met through a charge for the registration of all exempt waste operations.

The consultation is open through October 23, 2008. To participate, visit .