The Government has changed tack, and now says that "the lack of an exemption for genuine research, development or testing activities is causing delay and difficulties for initiatives which offer considerable environmental and economic benefits."
While the amendment applies to R&D plants in all sectors, it is the chemicals sector which has been most vocal about the issue.
Under the new rules, operators of existing installations which are not yet under IPPC may apply for an exemption not less than 28 days before they are scheduled to apply.
Those with R&D plants already under IPPC may seek to surrender their permit. Once they are exempt, the Agency will retain powers to visit R&D plants to check compliance with the exemption.
The consultation proposes a number of other minor amendments mostly making corrections to the regime. For instance, one will bring chemical machining of metal under the Environment Agency's control because of emissions of NOX. The activity was left out due to an oversight.