Local authorities grapple with IPPC permitting trials

Two Midlands local authorities have begun trials with the car maker Jaguar and foundry Triplex to prepare permits under the new integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) regime. The early signs are that both council officers and companies will face a stiff challenge.

The ferrous metals and glass sectors will be the first to fall under "Part A2" of the new IPPC regime - from May 2002 in England and Wales - followed by non-ferrous metals, coating, printing and textile treatments from May 2003. The Part A2 regime is to be enforced by local authorities in England and Wales and by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Last year, the Environment Agency conducted trials with companies aimed at identifying problems in the permitting process for Part A1 activities - those regulated by the Agency (ENDS Report 292, pp 3-4 ). Now local authorities are following suit, with trials covering ferrous metals, coatings, ceramics, glass, non-ferrous metals and rendering.

Most progress has been made on two "quick" trials - covering ferrous metals and coatings. These are a dry run of the permitting process and involve completion of a dummy application. The trials are of limited scope, however. Requirements for contaminated land and noise surveys have been omitted.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, the councils involved - Birmingham and Sandwell and Dudley - are adapting the Agency's existing package of guidance for Part A1 activities (ENDS Report 304, pp 44-45 ).

In one trial, Birmingham City Council is working with car maker Jaguar at a site where the company assembles vehicles and carries out undercoating and paint spraying. The site has a boiler house which may also fall under the regime.

Naima Bradley, a Birmingham environmental protection officer, said that the trial had already highlighted some key issues. Jaguar had been "surprised at the amount of information required in the application". And the lack of technical guidance had left it unsure as to the amount of information required. Another problem was the practical meaning of an "installation". A separate permit is required for each installation.

Birmingham is also looking at the status of certified environmental management systems (EMSs) - Jaguar has ISO14001 - and whether this would satisfy some of the information requirements. "Jaguar has been extremely cooperative and very keen to go through the process," Ms Bradley added.

A spokesman for Jaguar said the company wanted to see the regulator develop a practical and transparent permitting process but would not comment on any of the issues raised by the trial.

Another West Midlands council - Sandwell and Dudley - is conducting a trial with a company in the ferrous metals sector. Triplex operates a foundry which turns scrap into cast automotive parts. It has recently been certified to ISO14001.

Triplex managing director Chris Mintern appeared quietly confident about the foundry's ability to deal with the new controls, but remained concerned about providing the appropriate amount of information in the absence of specific guidance.

"It is a good job we've got 14001 otherwise we wouldn't know where to start filling in the application form," he said. Companies without accredited EMSs would find the task almost impossible, he suggested.

For ceramic and non-ferrous metals activities, participating local authorities and companies have also been identified. For glass, two "real life" applications have been made and will be included in the trials.

  • An up-to-date list of councils which are coordinating exchanges of information and expertise under the local air pollution control (LAPC) regime has been issued by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. 1 The note encourages authorities to make use of the service, and to consider establishing new link authorities in sectors such as clinical waste incineration.

  • A management guide to LAPC has been published by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. 2 The guide is a response to criticisms of poor regulatory practices by local authorities in a review commissioned by the DETR two years ago (ENDS Report 280, pp 6-7 ).

    The guide reinforces official guidance on inspection work and emission monitoring, and also covers issues such as officer training and planning of LAPC work. Good practice case studies are also given.

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