EA proposes changes to standard rules waste permits

UK: Consultations look at pollution incidents related to the biogas sector and facilities treating certain types of waste

The Environment Agency (EA) has launched two consultations on standard rules, which are intended to reduce pollution incidents from anaerobic digestion plants and to fill in the gaps left by the government's reform of the exemption regime.

The first consultation, which closes on 13 January, proposes revising the standard rules sets for biowaste including anaerobic digestion, composting and sewage sludge treatment. 

The proposed changes come as a result of the EA’s review of biowaste permits, and its review of incidents and audit data from AD plants.

The EA says the changes are aimed at reducing incidents caused by the biowaste sector, including fires and odour nuisance, improving poor performance, improving contribution to a more sustainable and circular economy and "contributing to reducing the impact on climate change".

The agency is also proposing to withdraw some rule sets to simplify the regime. 

As well as revoking standard rules permits for mechanical biological treatment of waste, which have not been used in recent years, and removing others which have become outdated, the EA is proposing that civil engineers should be required to assess AD sites to protect assets and minimises the risk of failures. 

The second consultation, which closes on 31 January, proposes three new standard rules permits for waste operators who treat for recovery waste mattresses, waste paper, cardboard and plastic and waste tyres.

Currently operators can register a waste exemption for these activities but the government is carrying out a reform of the exemption regime and the EA says the new rules will "help facilitate the transition from exemptions to environmental permits".

The consultation document states that the government may remove mattresses as a waste type allowed under the T12 exemption and that the new rule would mean operators can accept no more than 3,500 tonnes of waste each year. 

It states that the government may change or withdraw the T8 exemption for tyres and has therefore proposed a limit of 60 tonnes to be stored at a site at any given time.

In addition, the EA says the government may "significantly reduce the quantity limits" for paper and cardboard allowed under the T4 exemption, which includes preparatory treatments, such as baling, sorting and shredding. Under the proposed new rule, operators will be able to accept no more than 75,000 tonnes of waste each year.

A version of this article was first published by ENDS Waste & Bioenergy’s sister title ENDS Report

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