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Fortnightly Bulletin – 23rd October 2023

24 October 2023

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Guidance

Use of clay in slurry lagoons or irrigation reservoirs: RPS 91

This regulatory position statement (RPS) does not change your legal requirement to have an environmental permit for a waste operation when you use waste clay to construct slurry lagoons or irrigation/winter storage reservoirs. 

However, the Environment Agency will not normally take enforcement action against you if you do not comply with this legal requirement provided that: 

  • your activity meets the description set out in this RPS, 
  • you comply with the conditions set out in this RPS.

In addition your activity must not cause (or be likely to cause) pollution of the environment or harm to human health, and must not: 

  • cause a risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals, 
  • cause a nuisance through noise or odours, 
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest

This RPS relates to the use of up to 6,000 tonnes of waste clay (waste code 17 05 04) from construction and excavation sites in the construction of:

  • slurry lagoons,
  • irrigation or winter storage reservoirs. 

For the full guidance, click here.

Source: gov.uk

Operating an existing medium combustion plant greater than 5MWth: RPS 290

This RPS does not change your legal requirement to have an environmental permit to operate an existing medium combustion plant greater than five megawatt thermal (MWth) after the 1st of January 2024. 

However, the Environment Agency will not normally take enforcement action against you if do not comply with this legal requirement provided that: 

  • your activity and the circumstances meet the description set out in this RPS, 
  • you comply with the conditions set out in this RPS, 
  • your activity does not cause (and is not likely to cause) pollution of the environment or harm to human health. 

This RPS only applies to those with complex bespoke medium combustion plant environmental permit applications, who have been unable to secure this from the Environment Agency before the 1st of January 2024 deadline.

An application for a complex bespoke environment permit for an existing medium combustion plant must have been submitted by the 1st of November 2023 to the Environment Agency, and a detailed air quality modelling to support your application needs to be submitted by the 31st of July of 2024 to the Environment Agency.

For the full guidance, click here.

Source: gov.uk

Storing and treating litter, straw, slurry and wash water from an animal disease outbreak: RPS 36

This RPS on storing and treating litter, straw, slurry and wash water in a location where an animal disease outbreak has been identified by the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

This RPS applies to the storage and treatment of waste:

  • Litter
  • Straw
  • Slurry*
  • Wash water.

The waste must be generated during cleansing and disinfection after an animal disease outbreak has been confirmed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

*The Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution (England) Regulations 2018 define slurry as “liquid or semi-liquid matter with a consistency enabling it to be pumped or to be discharged by gravity, which is composed of:

  1. excreta produced by livestock while in a yard or building (including that held in wood chip corrals), or
  2. a mixture of livestock excreta, livestock bedding, rainwater and washings from a yard or building used by livestock.

The circumstances in which this RPS applies, is when an animal disease outbreak has been confirmed by the APHA.

For the full guidance, click here.

Source: gov.uk

Treat small volumes of contaminated soil and groundwater: RPS215

This RPS does not change your legal requirement to have an environmental permit to treat contaminated soil and or groundwater, and temporarily store the waste or products used, when you carry out small scale:

  • remediation for pollution incidents or land contamination using the techniques listed in this RPS,
  • site-specific remediation trials to find out if a technique listed in this RPS will be effective.

Small scale means the specified volumes given in this RPS.

However, the Environment Agency will not normally take enforcement action if you do not comply with this legal requirement if you meet the requirements in the RPS.

The RPS does not apply to any other legal requirements.

This RPS does not apply to the reuse of treated materials.

For the full guidance, click here.

Source: gov.uk

Open loop heat pump systems: apply to install one

The guidance for the open loop heat pump system was originally published in February 2016.

You may need to get consent, a permit and a licence from the Environment Agency before you can install either:

  • an open loop ground source,
  • a surface water source heating and cooling system.

These systems pump water from beneath the ground or from nearby rivers, canals, lakes or the sea. They use the water to heat or cool buildings before reintroducing it to the ground or surface water.

If you want to install one of these systems, you will need:

  • groundwater investigation consent – if you’re going to drill for a ground source scheme
  • an abstraction licence – if you are taking more than 20 cubic metres per day,
  • an environmental permit to discharge the water or a registered exemption from this requirement – unless you meet the criteria for a low-risk activity,
  • an environmental permit for flood risk activities or ordinary watercourse consent – if you’re carrying out works near a watercourse, a flood defence or a sea defence.

You do not need groundwater investigation consent or an abstraction licence for a closed loop heat exchanger. However, from the 2nd of October 2023 you may need an environmental permit for the discharge. Check the guidance on closed loop schemes to find out what to do.

There’s separate guidance for deep geothermal systems.

For the full guidance, click here.

Source: gov.uk

Articles of Interest

Open consultation – Changes to Technically Competent Manager (TCM) attendance at permitted sites

This is the Environment Agency’s second consultation on TCM attendance at sites with an environmental permit for a waste operation.

The result of the first consultation showed that respondents preferred the approach given in option 1, which links attendance to charging bands (except for closed landfills and mobile plant).

The consultation document gives more detail on:

  • how the preferred approach to TCM attendance will work in future,
  • other proposed changes to the attendance requirements and associated guidance.

The Environment Agency are asking questions about specific points of the proposed requirements. Access to the consultation document.

The Environment Agency will use the responses to inform the revised attendance requirements and they will publish guidance that gives the new requirements on GOV.UK.

The consultation closes at 11:45pm on the 14th of December 2023.

For access to the full article click here.

Source: Environment Agency

Scientists call on ministers to cut limits for ‘forever chemicals’ in UK tap water

Acceptable levels of “forever chemicals” in drinking water should be reduced tenfold and a new national chemicals agency created to protect public health, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has told the UK government.

The Royal Society of Chemistry wants to see a reduction in the cap on levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in tap water. PFAS are a family of approximately 10,000 widely used chemicals that do not break down easily in the environment. Some have been linked to cancers, liver and thyroid disease, immune and fertility problems, and developmental defects in unborn children.

The current limit in UK drinking water, which is a guideline and not a statutory cap, is 100 nanograms a litre for individual PFAS. The RSC wants this reduced to 10ng/l and a new overall limit introduced of 100ng/l for a wider range of PFAS in drinking water.

For access to the full article click here.

Source: The Guardian

Flame retardant pollution threatens wildlife on all continents, research finds

More than a hundred species of wildlife (frogs to killer whales) found across every continent are contaminated with highly toxic flame retardants, and the pollution is probably responsible for population declines in some species, a new analysis of published research shows.

The dangerous chemicals have been detected in everything from sea urchins to bobcats to Arctic foxes, and at alarming levels in endangered species such as red pandas, chimpanzees and killer whales.

The analysis examined about 20 years of flame retardant research and includes an interactive map showing the location and type of animal found to be contaminated. It brings into sharp focus the breadth of flame retardant pollution and dangers it poses.

For access to the full article, click here.

Source: The Guardian

Fines and Prosecutions

Court orders scrap site to be cleared after investigation

An illegal Teesside scrap site with hundreds of cars piled up must be cleared following Environment Agency investigation.

Both directors were ordered to pay £1,591 in fines and costs and given a remediation order to clear the site of all the remaining scrap vehicles.

Gary Wallace, Area Environment Manager for the Environment Agency in the North East, said:

“The storage and dismantling of scrap vehicles is strictly regulated because of the pollution risks of hazardous liquid such as oil, fuel and break fluids, as well as batteries.

Dismantling must be done using methods to reduce the risk to the environment, and the waste stored pending recovery or disposal. Operators must have an environmental permit to carry out these activities.

This was a lengthy investigation by our officers where the defendants were non-compliant and I’m pleased there is now a court order in place to ensure the clearance of the site once and for all.”

To read more about this case, click here.

Source: Environment Agency

Worcestershire waste boss and firm told to pay nearly £110,000

A director and his waste company have been ordered to pay nearly £110,000 following a case brought by the Environment Agency for illegal waste activities.

The company ran a skip-hire business, bringing waste to the site from domestic and commercial customers, for financial gain. 

The waste was then sorted, with some waste being burned, metal being sold for scrap, and the remainder being sent for legitimate disposal elsewhere.

Lyndon Essex, waste technical specialist for the Environment Agency in the West Midlands, said:

“We hope this case will send a clear message that we do not hesitate to take action to protect the environment and bring perpetrators to justice. The director operated the site without the required permit which, as well as undermining the regulatory regime, also had an impact on lawful waste operators. We are actively targeting illegal waste activities across the country and would urge all those seeking to become involved in the waste industry to ensure they have the appropriate permits and authorisations in place.”

Businesses and householders should carry out checks to ensure that they are using legitimate companies to deal with their waste.

To check if a waste carrier is genuine visit: https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/index  

Anyone who suspects a company is operating illegally can call the Environment Agency 24/7 on 0800 80 70 60 or report it anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 

To read more about this case, click here.

Source: Environment Agency

Online Learning and Events

Net Zero Festival – Business Design Centre, London

31st October – 1st November 2023

This year, the Net Zero Festival is coming back bigger and better than before!

Taking place on 31 October – 1 November, at the Business Design Centre, this year’s event will bring together thousands of business leaders, campaigners, and politicians from across the UK’s burgeoning green economy.

To register for the event, click here.

Westminster Insight Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 Conference

3rd November 2023

Join Westminster Insight’s EIP Conference, chaired by Ruth Chambers OBE from the Green Alliance, to explore the latest guidance for meeting biodiversity requirements, reducing pollution and improving water quality and resource efficiency. Hear a policy update from Alan Law, Deputy Chief Executive at Natural England on next steps for the EIP, green finance and net zero.

For further information, click here.

The Festival of Circular Economy

15th – 16th November 2023

The Festival of Circular Economy is back for a third year. The Festival of Circular Economy will once again bring together movers, shakers and trailblazers from across the globe to discuss all things circularity.

For further information, click here.

Scotland and North: Restoration and Rewilding Webinar

8th November 2023, 12:30-13:30

Join this exciting upcoming IEMA Scotland North online event!

The north of Scotland has some of the most interesting and ambitious landscape-scale restoration and rewilding projects in the UK.

Join the webinar for a showcase of restoration work being carried out in the region, and an opportunity for questions and knowledge sharing.

For further information, click here.

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