DEFRA seeks environmental permitting for water and radioactivity

The Environment Department (DEFRA) began consultation this week on the second phase of the environmental permitting (EP) regime, proposing to extend the initiative to ground and surface water discharges, and radioactive substances

Environmental permitting was introduced to England and Wales in April last year, as part of the government’s ‘better regulation’ initiative. It established a single risk-based system of permitting and compliance assessment for the pollution prevention and control (PPC) and waste management licensing regimes ( ENDS Report 384, p 40).

DEFRA says that the proposals will cut red-tape and provide a simplified permitting system. The reduced burden on industry and regulators should create savings of £40 million over the next ten years. Regulators should also be more able to concentrate on poor performance and criminal activity.

A total of 146,000 sites would be brought into EP, those with discharge consents to controlled waters accounting for a third of these. 665,000 sites currently have environmental permits or exemptions.

Most of the proposed extensions of EP would be implemented through the replacement of the 2007 environmental permitting Regulations by new legislation, intended to enter force in April 2010. Draft regulations are included in the consultation, with proposed changes highlighted.

Water abstraction and impoundment licensing would be introduced at a later date, possibly through the forthcoming floods and water Bill.

The consultation confirms DEFRA’s intention to bring in further regulatory systems (ENDS Report 399, p 37):

  • waste batteries;
  • water abstraction and impoundment;
  • waste carriers and brokers with other permits.

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