You have been granted your permit application, so what now?
In our final blog on environmental permitting, we will be discussing your compliance obligations now that you have received a permit for your regulated facility.
First and foremost, it is imperative that you understand your new permit’s requirements (sometimes known as clauses) as these have been set to:
- Protect human health and the environment;
- Ensure that statutory and government policy environmental targets and outcomes are achieved; and
- Encourage regulators to promote best practice in the operation of facilities.
Your environmental permit is a legal document and failure to comply with the listed requirements can lead to fines and prosecutions. A competent individual or team of individuals should read through the permit and identify the requirements which can be both qualitative and quantitative. A few examples of these qualitative and quantitative conditions are detailed below:
- If your regulated facility falls into the waste operation category, there may be a restriction on the amount of waste you can accept in a given time period.
- If your regulated facility falls into the water discharge category, there will most likely be restrictions on the effluent you discharge.
- For any of the 12 classes of regulated facilities (as detailed in our blog on Environmental Permitting Regulations and the Importance of Compliance During the Coronavirus Pandemic), it is likely a qualitative requirement is set that requires your facility to operate in accordance with an environmental management system (EMS).
The requirements in an environmental permit are not universal and are likely to change for each regulated facility including the requirements in standard rules permits. Therefore, it is important not to assume the requirements set out in your environmental permit as this could land you in some hot water with the regulatory body.
Once you understand your permit requirements, you must ensure that you comply with these which will include:
- Ensuring staff within your business understand the permitting requirements, are aware of their roles and responsibilities, competent to carry out those roles and understand the importance of compliance;
- Maintaining training and competency of key staff to ensure ongoing management and operation of the site in compliance with the environmental permit; and
- Outlining any specified monitoring and measuring, record keeping and reporting requirements in your site’s EMS.
It is also important to track any changes to your operation (e.g. new activities or an increase in production quantity) and ensure that you continue to operate within the limits set out in your permit. If this is not possible, you will have to apply to vary your permit, for example, to expand and increase your capacity or site boundary.
The regulatory body will inspect your site to ensure that you are complying with your permit so it is vital that you understand and adhere to your permit requirements.