Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Simple and fairer waste exemptions from environmental permitting

Simple and fairer waste exemptions from environmental permitting

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (News Release ref :254/08) issued by The Government News Network on 30 July 2008

Proposed changes to the system of environmental permit exemptions will increase waste recovery and recycling, whilst maintaining high levels of environmental protection and saving businesses money, Environment Minister Joan Ruddock said today.

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 today 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.

Jane Davidson, the Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, said:

"These proposed revised exemptions will complete the new environmental permitting regime and ensure that the level of regulation of waste activities match the risk they pose to the environment. This consultation is an opportunity for industry to help shape the new exemptions system."

Dr Paul Leinster, Acting Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said:

"Most of the waste exemptions currently available have been in place since 1994 with little or no amendment. To keep pace with the changing world of waste management and the new techniques that have been developed, we need a revised suite of exemptions.

"We are seeking to encourage businesses to recover and recycle their waste by offering exemptions for truly low risk operations. Conversely, we are proposing tightening the regulations for those operations that pose a higher risk to the environment.

"We need to hear the views of businesses which might be affected before we make changes to the system. We would encourage all businesses handling waste to look at the website to find out if their waste activity might be affected, and to participate in the consultation."

The consultation is open for 12 weeks from 31 July and 23 October 2008.

To participate visit

To find out if your waste activity may be affected by the proposals visit


                     PROPOSALS AFFECT ME?
      Construction   Some activities that   Businesses producing more than
                     currently require      500 tonnes of aggregates from
                     notification will now  inert waste will require an
                     need a standard permit application for a standard
                                            permitThe use of more than 500
                                            tonnes of aggregates made from
                                            inert waste will require an
                                            application for a standard
                     Some activities that   The use of less than 500
                     currently require      tonnes of inert material in a
                     notification of the    construction works will become
                     exemption, subject to  a simple exemption.
                     assessment, will                become simple
      Agriculture    Some exemptions that   Burning of up to 10 tonnes per
                     are commonly           day of plant matter will still
                     registered by the      operate under an exemption.
                     agricultural community However, it will need to be
                     will need to be        re-registered every three
                     renewed every three    years. We have proposed that a
                     years.                 registration fee of £50 by
                                            paper or phone or a lower fee
                                            online, to be paid per site.
                     We will offer simple   A new simple exemption is
                     exemptions for         proposed for the on-farm
                     environmentally sound  anaerobic digestion for up to
                     methods of disposing   1000 tonnes of of manure and
                     of non-hazardous       slurry.
                     materials produced on                a farm.
      Waste          We are proposing that  The limit for a simple
      management     there should be        exemption for paper recycling
                     varying limits on the  will be 500 tonnes if the
                     quantities of waste    paper is stored outside and
                     stored in order to     3000 tonnes if it is stored
                     register a simple      inside.
                     exemption. The limits
                     will depend on whether
                     the waste is stored
                     and processed inside                or outside.
                     We will introduce more The storage, re-use or
                     simple exemptions for  dismantling of up 100 tonnes
                     the storage, re-use    of footwear will become a
                     and dismantling of a   simple exemption.The storage,
                     wide range of          re-use or dismantling of up
                     materials destined for 100 tonnes of wooden pallets
                     recovery.              will become a simple
      General        Some waste activities  The following wastes will need
      business       that have operated     to have an exemption:Clinical
                     without a permit or    wasteClothingConstruction and
                     exemption will now     demolition wasteElectrical
                     need to register a     equipment wasteFood waste from
                     waste exemption for    retailers and
                     the first time.        producersFurniture and
                                            household itemsHazardous
                                            wasteOilThe production of
                                            small amounts of biodiesel
                                            from used cooking oil 

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