Environmental permits, information and damage

This cross-cutting theme is now closed for comments.

You can read comments made since the start of the Red Tape Challenge in April 2011 below.

You can also still submit comments to the Red Tape Challenge inbox by clicking here.

The environmental permitting regulations set the operating conditions for businesses through a permitting framework. Its risk based approach includes a hierarchy of permits from those that are tailor made for larger, more risky operations to simple registrations and exemptions from permitting for less risky operations. Permitting operations include industrial installations, mobile plant waste and extractive waste, those discharging to water and/or groundwater and radioactive substances activities.

The environmental information regulations aim to involve the public in environmental matters by giving them the right of access to environmental information held by public authorities.

The environmental damage regulations oblige operators to take steps to prevent serious environmental damage from occurring or, where it does occur, to make good such damage in line with the polluter pays principle.

You can find 3 regulations that relate to environmental permits, information and damage below to the left.

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs)

Increase access to environmental information in order to increase public participation in environmental decision-making, inform debate, and increase awareness of environmental matters.

EU regulation

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Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010

The Regulations provide a risk based framework to control activities that could cause pollution.

 UK regulation

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Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009

The regulations place obligations on operators to make good serious cases of damage to the environment, transposing the provisions of the EU Environmental Liability Directive.

 UK regulation

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Tell us what you think should happen to these regulations and why, being specific where possible:

For example, you might consider how the application process for permits could be further improved or the requirements for smaller businesses further simplified.

119 responses to Environmental permits, information and damage

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    Gavin King-Smith said on October 2, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    The issue of water abstraction and impoundment licensing for hydro electricity generation is missing from this list although it is a permitting process applied by the environment agencies throughout the UK. I am submitting this comment here and will do so under the consultation on red-tape on Energy in November.

    I administer the Micro Hydro Association (www.microhydroassociation.co.uk) whose members currently number 76 existing and potential generators and supporters of micro hydro-electric schemes and 49 individuals and organisations who offer services and products in the field. I have been representing this community in the consultations by the EA and SEPA on their guidelines for hydropower schemes.

    The environmental legislation involved includes the EU Water Directive but there is other related legislation and subsidiary regulation, together with links to planning regulation and heritage preservation. The complete set of regulations governing the development of micro hydro-electric schemes (currently defined as sub 50kW capacity) is burdensome and involves overlap and duplication of effort. It can currently take years before even a tiny off-grid scheme is permitted. Micro hydro schemes offer rural landowners and communities who have access to suitable water resources the best renewable energy technology available in terms of performance and resilience. The Feed-in Tariff has offered a viable incentive for people to make the investment involved but uptake has been very limited as a result of the over-precautionary approach applied by the agencies, apparently mainly based on concerns which apply to much larger schemes.

    What is needed is a single and simple regulatory process which will permit the majority of micro hydro-electric schemes given satisfactory registration of scheme designs and evidence of consultation with, and agreement from, any affected landowners. Registration would need to be supported by selective monitoring of implementation (as would full mitigated licensing).

    Registration would need to be replaced, following appropriate surveys, by specific abstraction and impoundment licences with defined mitigation measures, only where the extent of a depleted reach or the addition of an impoundment could have a significant impact in the total river basin in terms of flood risk, water scarcity, biodiversity, protected species, or critical business and recreational fishing interests. Significance would be determined principally on spatial/volumetric parameters within overall river basin plans.

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    Paul Milling said on August 6, 2011 at 10:33 am

    The regulation surrounding small-scale hydropower is both too expensive and too complex. The consequence of this is that there is a substantial disincentive to potential small-scale creaters. We have the examples in biodiesel production for own use and small-scale brewing for sale of the way in which reductions in legislation can create a reduced carbon footprint and create small businesses.

    The hydropower situation could be substantially improved by, for example, removing all regulation relating to a user who created a hydropower unit on his own property using a water flow which returned to source within 50 metres and generated no more that the average consumption of four household units.

    Comment Tags: hydropower

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