Regulation of Industrial Processes
The primary legislation dealing with environmental permitting (EP) is the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999. The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 (As amended) sets out the detailed legal requirements relating to the EP regime.
Public Register of Permitted Activity
Certain industrial activities have the potential to cause pollution risks to human health and the environment. These activities are regulated to ensure that there are proper controls over how these activities are carried out. The regulatory regime dealing with this issue is called Environmental Permitting (EP) and activities covered by this legislation are prohibited unless a permit has been obtained from the appropriate regulator, either the Environmental Agency or the local authority responsible for the area where the activity is located. Where a permit is granted, the regulator is allowing that person to carry on an activity with certain conditions. The permit gives clear instructions on how the environment must be protected from this activity.
Permits can cover water, land and air pollution, radioactive contamination and other environmental hazards. The standards of protection take account of the nature of the hazard, the cost and the risks to the environment and human health. These permits maintain a careful balance between human activity and environmental protection.
The activities controlled by the EP regime are divided into 3 categories and are regulated by 2 different bodies.
Part A (1) - Environment Agency
The Environment Agency regulates what is considered to be the most polluting of the 3 industrial categories, A(1) activities. These are regulated for emissions to land, air, water and other environmental considerations. Examples of A(1) activities are landfill sites and hazardous waste incinerators.
Part A (2) and B - Local Authority (Chiltern District Council)
Local Authorities regulate A(2) activities, as well as the lesser polluting Part B activities which are regulated for emissions to air only. Examples of Part B activities include petrol stations, dry cleaners and vehicle re-sprayers.
There is a charge for permits, which follows the 'polluter pays' principle by linking the charge to the regulatory effort required to monitor the installation, and aiming to reward businesses that seek to minimise the likelihood of causing pollution issues by reducing the annual subsistence charge. The charging scheme is set by central Government and is regularly reviewed.