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Permitting


In England and Wales, the permitting requirements and standards of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) and the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) are applied by the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 (the EPR) and their associated amendments (The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2011, The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 and The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2013).

The regulating body for Environmental Permits is the Environment Agency (EA) (In Wales = Natural Resources Wales) whose primary role is the protection of the environment and human health. There are three primary options available to the EA with regard to permitting of AD plants:

• A Standard Environmental Permit
• A Bespoke Environmental Permit
• An Exemption from the Environmental Permitting Regime

Standard permits

For operations that have been assessed to meet generic risk assessments (GRA) based on operation rather than a particular site. If the plant complies with the standard set of rules developed to meet the requirements of the GRA, as set out under the permit, and providing that planning permission is in place, then a standard permit can be issued. Standard permits are available for a range of AD plants and digestate storage and use. Standard permits should be quicker and less costly to obtain than bespoke permits. Standard Permits relevant to AD plants and associated operations include:

 

No.
Title of Standard Permit
Brief Description
 
BIOLOGICAL TREATMENT OF WASTE
 
SR2009No4 Combustion of biogas in engines at a sewage treatment works
Applicable to locations with <5MW thermal input
SR2010No17 Storage of digestate from anaerobic digestion plants
Temporary storage of up to 75,000 t of waste digestate from anaerobic digestion plants, away from the treatment facility
SR2012No10 On farm anaerobic digestion facility using farm wastes only, including use of the resultant biogas
Up to 100 t / day of waste or combination of waste and non-waste accepted per day
SR2012No12
Anaerobic digestion facility including use of the resultant biogas
Anaerobic digestion capacity of up to 100 t / day of waste or combination of waste and non-waste
 
 
 
 
 
RECOVERY OR USE OF WASTE ON LAND
 
SR2010No4
Mobile plant for landspreading
(Not applicable if digestate complies with Quality Protocol / PAS110) Storage of up to 3,000 t of waste for 12 months.  The use of mobile plant for spreading materials stated in the rules for agricultural benefit. Includes digestate from AD plants (up to 250 t / ha).
SR2010No5
Mobile plant for reclamation, restoration or improvement of land
Storage of up to 3,000 t of waste for 12 months. The use of mobile plant for the addition of up to 5,000 t / ha of the materials stated in the rules for agricultural / ecological improvement. Compost and digestate from non source segregated sources are to be used on brownfield land not intended for agricultural use only.
SR2010No6
Mobile plant for landspreading of sewage sludge
Storage of up to 3,000 t of waste for 12 months. The use of mobile plant for the treatment of land using the substances listed for the improvement of agriculture / ecology. Includes non agricultural land and agricultural land used for the production of non food crops not grown in short term rotation with food crops. Application of up to 250 t / ha / yr. EA notification required prior to spreading. Sludges from treatment of urban waste water only.

 


Standard rules for all activities listed above are available at the Environment Agency Website http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/topics/permitting/118404.aspx

Bespoke permits

For operations which do not meet the rules set out in standard permits. For operations that are generally more complex, larger or have potentially higher risks due to the nature of the operation or site location. The Environment Agency will set specific conditions with which the operation must comply.


Exemptions

Where specific low risk activities are being undertaken these may be exempt from an Environmental Permit. Exempt activities must usually be registered with the Environment Agency and this can be done on line from the Agency’s website.

Exemptions are set out in the Environmental Permitting, England and Wales Regulations 2010. The table below briefly describes the exemptions that are most likely to be applicable to anaerobic digestion and associated activities.

 

No.
Title of Exemption
Brief Description
 
USE OF WASTE
 
U6
Use of sludge for the purposes of re-seeding a waste water treatment plant
Storage of use of up to 1,000 m3 of sludge from a WWTP in order to re-seed the receiving WWTP. Can use sludges from treatment of urban waste water, and sludges from biological treatment of industrial waste water other than those mentioned in 190811 (i.e. contaminated). It is understood that this exemption does apply to AD plants.
U10
Spreading of waste on agricultural land to confer benefit
Spreading of up to 50 t/ha and storage of up to 200 t of digestate produced from a process operating under a T24 or T25 activity. A mobile plant license is required where U10 is not applicable.
U11
Spreading waste on non-agricultural land to confer benefit
Spreading of material for physical, chemical or biological land improvement. Includes digestate from T24 or T25 process at a rate of 50 t/ha with up to 200 t storage. Compost also included. A mobile plant license is required where U11 is not applicable.
 
 
 
 
TREATMENT OF WASTE
 
T13
Treatment of waste food
Decanting, unwrapping, bulking up, sorting of food waste and its packaging. Does not include ABPR material destined to be fed to animals or any further treatment of the waste. Store or treat up to 30 t of waste at any one time. Can be stored for up to 7 days.
T23
Aerobic composting and associated prior treatment
Storage and treatment of up to 80 t at any one time at the place of production and where compost is to be used. ABPR needs Animal Health approval.  60 t if transporting material to or from facility.
T24
Anaerobic digestion at a premises used for agriculture and burning of resultant biogas
Storage or treatment of up to 1,250 t at any one time of manure or plant tissue waste for AD with a minimum retention time of 28 days. Storage of material derived on farm in manure or slurry pits is excluded from the 1,250 t. Imported manure / slurry is included in the 1,250 t. Biogas must be used to produce energy with a thermal rating of les s than 0.4 MW. Plant tissue waste and farmyard manure & slurry only.
T25
Anaerobic digestion at a premises not used for agriculture and burning of resultant biogas
Storage and treatment of up to 50 m3 of waste for AD with a minimum retention time of 28 days. Biogas must be used to generate energy with a thermal input of less than 0.4 MW. Includes ABPR but must comply with regs.

 

Information on all of these exemptions and others that may be relevant to your operations can be found at the Environment Agency website http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/topics/permitting/115492.aspx

Consolidated permits may be available to operators with more than one facility. This is however only available if the facilities are on one site i.e. there is more than one type of permitted activity on one site.

Establishing which permit is relevant for your facility and demonstrating compliance with the various requirements of either Standard and Bespoke permits or Exemptions will require direct consultation with the Environment Agency and it is recommended that you contact your local EA permitting officer. There is information and guidance on environmental permitting of AD plants on the Environment Agency’s website (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/sectors/37338.aspx)


Duty of Care

Duty of Care requirements are now embodied in the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 and the subsequent Waste (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.