Environmental Permitting

For the complete list of Exemptions, please visit www.wastesupport.co.uk

Are you affected?

In England and Wales, if you wish to carry out a waste treatment activity on a site, you will need to get a Permit from the Environment Agency or Local Authority.
‘Treatment’ is considered to be where waste either has a process applied to it – other than simple storage processes like baling or compaction – or where waste from other sites is stored.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, Permitted activities are covered by the Pollution Prevention and Control requirements and you would need to register with SEPA or the local council.

There are also certain Permits granted by Local Authorties for low risk positions that cover waste and non-waste – such as crushing activities. This provides guidance on those Part A2 and Part B positions.Some extremely low risk activities are covered by Exemptions. If you just store recyclable waste at a site prior to onward transfer to a reprocessor, that would require the site to register an Exemption with the appropriate Agency.

Some wastes are classified as non-Waste Framework Directive waste. These can be stored and have basic treatment – such as compaction and baling – without an Exemption or Permit to facilitate their onward movement. There are three situations where this occurs:

The first allows waste produced on site to be stored and have ‘ancillary’ treatment applied without registering an Exemption. This includes compacting and baling to assist with the movement of waste or shredding, for instance.

The second allows a waste producer – who the Agency deem to be a company, not a site – to store waste it has produced at one site at another site that it ‘controls’ or in a container it ‘controls’ on someone elses site where the owner has given permission. This might include a supermarket returning packaging from shops to a DC, or a maintenance company storing waste fluorescent tubes in their own container on someone else’s site.

The third relates to where a shop may offer a collection point for WEEE or batteries, for instance.

Regulatory Guidance Notes

Key to understanding the enforcement interpretation of Regulation (in England) are the Regulatory Guidance Notes issued by the EA. For Permitting, these have all now been grouped here in GOV.UK.

The Agency also publish a list of ‘Low Risk Activities where no Permit is required’. (updated March 2016).

Aircraft dismantling

The Waste Framework Directive definition of waste – ie where something is discarded or the person has the intent to discard – has led to a recent requirement for clarification by the EA over when aircraft become waste.

The EA’s position is that when the owner of an aircraft decides that it has reached the end of its flying life, then that is the position at which it becomes waste. Any site then removing parts from that aircraft or scrapping it must therefore be Permitted. This would include, for instance, an airline hangar at an airfield where the airline removed parts for spares before handing it over to a company to cut up for scrap. The airline would need an Environmental Permit and Planning for the hangar and the scrapping company would need a mobile plant permit to cut up the aircraft.

The only exception to this would appear to be if the aircraft is destined for a museum.

The EA has produced a Regulatory Position Statement on the issue.

360 is now well versed in these requirements having had considerable debate with the EA over definitions and requirements and having compliled and submitted the necessary Permit application.

What is required?


In England and Wales

In April 2008, new Environmental Permitting Regulations came into force that simplifies and combines pollution prevention and control (PPC) permitting and waste management licensing (WML). These were superceeded by the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 which form the main Regulations that later amendments got applied to.

Defra’s Core Guidance document has been superceded by the GOV.UK page but is still a much more comprehensive explanation. There is also Defra brief Guidance document that explains the main requirements.

The key document ‘How to Comply with your Permit’ was withdrawn in February 2016. GOV.UK now provides the main source of information with a page that lists all the relevant requirements.

The previous Regulations have been amended by the The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2013 which consolidate recent amendments including the new Exemptions which supersede the paragraph Exemptions from 6 April 2010. A summary of these was produced by the EA. Our Wastesupport page lists all the exemptions and provides links to the details.

The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 apply the new Materials Recycling Facility Code of Practice.

Further amendments have been introduced including The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment No3) Regulations 2015 which apply the outcome of a recent Waste Crime consultation from 30th October 2015 including the ability of the Environment Agency to revoke a site Permit on the basis of an assesment that the site poses an environmental risk. This has changed from the previous requirement for the Agency to be able to demonstrate a ‘serious risk’ and is allowing the Agency to close sites on a highly subjective opinion. There is currently no appeal process to prevent the closure taking place.

The Environmental Protection (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018 apply the requirement for technical competence and a management plan to sites operating under the old Waste Management Licensing system. The EA has stated that starting with Q1 2018 quarterly returns, all waste sites will have to list their technical competence system and if using WAMITAB, provide details of their Technically Competent Manager (see below under ‘Operator Competence’ and Competence Management Scheme).

Types of permit

There are two main types of permits – standard rules and bespoke. Most waste activities that require a Permit are likely to fall under the Standard Rules requirement. These include transfer stations, sorting facilities, composting sites and pet crematoria. Applications can be made onlineCharges are applied for Permits under a fairly complex charging scheme that has recently (March 2018) been revamped. 

Prior to assessing the technical content of Permit applications, a Duly Made process has to be applied which in theory, is a 3-3.5 hour assessment that the application is complete although this can often take up to 6 weeks. Guidance on this is available here.

Appropriate Measures

The EA are introducing a range of Appropriate Measures for regulated sites to effectively replace Best Available Techniques and ‘necessary measures’. So far, the following have been published:

Fire Plans

The Environment Agency now require all Permitted sites to have a comprehensive and complex Fire Prevention Plan (v3 29 July 2016) (360 produced pdf available here for easy printing). A recent consultation has seen strong concerns expressed by industry that the EA’s requirements cross over with the Fire Services requirements and that many sites will simply be unable to comply with many of the provisions.

360 Environmental can assist in the preparation of Fire Plans and has a record of successful implementation.

Management Plans

All Environmental Permits – including pre-2008 waste management licences – require a written Management Plan to be held by the site. This is a set of procedures describing what you will do to minimise the risk of pollution from the activities covered by your permit and should follow the guidelines laid down here.

Fly management

The EA can ask for management plans for issues of concern, one of which is fly problems. A new Fly Management Plan document has been produced in July 2018 giving extensive guidance and a comprehensive list of issues that must be included should a site be requested to provide one.

Operator Competence

The Regulations require sites with Environmental Permits to demonstrate their competence to run the site. There are two methods of satisfying this requirement.

The traditional way is for a site to have a suitably trained person, either someone with a Certificate of Technical Competence or someone who is Deemed Competent on the site, depending on the level of permit. ‘Competence’ used to last for life once a person had passed the course or been approved as Deemed Competent, but as from 1 March 2009, all CoTC and DC holders will be required to pass a test of Continuing Competence every two years with the first test being required before 1 March 2012. WAMITAB is the main awarding body for CoTC who have produced an extremely comprehensive FAQ.

A new system has now been introduced where a business – rather than an individual – gain put in place the necessary procedures on the back of ISO 9001 to be able to demonstrate that it has suitably competent people. This means that a site is not just dependent on one person, but is able to satisfy the competence requirements through its processes. This system is called the Competence Management Scheme and has been devised by the  Energy and Utlity Skills Council with the Environmental Services Association.

360 is now able to prepare sites for CMS.

Guidance on Operator Competence has been produced by the Environment Agency for England and Wales.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, waste management licensing is managed under The Waste Management Licensing Regulations and regulated by SEPA and the NIEA.



The Environmental Permiiting Regulations will be amended in late 2023 with revised Exemptions (listed here).

  • Those operating under the exemptions being removed – U16, T8, T9 – with have 3 months from the date the Environmental Permitting Regulation amendments come into force to apply for a permit.
  • Those operating under T4, T6, T12 or D7 will have 6 months where their continued activity exceeds to new conditions.
  • Those operating under a U1, S1 or S2 will have 12  months.

Exemptions are likely to be much more relevant for most businesses. Applying for a simple Exemption requires an online process to be completed. Bulk registrations can be made using this form.
Exemptions registered for WEEE treatment attract a charge (£840), but all other exemptions are free to register. Exemptions have to be renewed every three years.

NRW Exemption applications can be found here.
SEPA Exemptions information can be found here.

The Environment Agency Public Register holds details of all sites that register under the new Exemption system in England and Wales as well as those with Environmental Permits.

Applications are listed here.

There is a popular misconception that mixed recyclables can be sorted under an exemption. This is not true and only materials of the same type can either be stored or sorted under an exemption (eg paper types from a mixed cardboard and paper load or plastic bottles and plastic film) unless it is very small amounts (up to 10 tonnes over a 7 day period) under a T10.

Exemptions are categorised as:

U – use of waste
T – Treatment of waste
S – storage of waste
D – disposal of waste

Explanations of these can be found on our Wastesupport site. However, a word of warning, the Wastesupport site will take you to the new GOV.UK website entries which are not as good as the old ones which can still be found on the archived EA website.

U1 – Use of waste in construction
U2 – Use of baled end-of-life tyres in construction
U3 – Use of waste in the construction of entertainment or educational installations etc
U4 – Burning of waste as a fuel in a small appliance
U5 – Use of waste derived biodiesel as fuel
U6 – Use of sludge for the purposes of re-seeding a waste water treatment plant
U7 – Use of final effluent to clean a highway gravel bed
U8 – Direct and beneficial use of waste for a specified purpose
U9 – Use of waste to manufacture finished goods
U10 – Spreading waste on agricultural land to confer benefit
U11 – Spreading waste on non-agricultural land to confer benefit
U12 – Spreading mulch
U13 – Spreading of plant matter to confer benefit
U14 – Incorporation of ash into soil
U15 – Pig and poulty ash
U16 – Use of De-polluted end-of-life vehicles for vehicle parts

T1 – Cleaning, washing, spraying or coating of relevant waste
T2 – Recovery of textiles
T4 – Preparatory treatments (baling, sorting, shredding etc)
T5 – Screening and blending of waste
T6 – Treatment of waste wood and waste plant matter by chipping, shredding, cutting or pulverising
T8 – Mechanical treatment of end-of-life tyres
T9 – Recovery of scrap metal
T10 – Sorting mixed waste
T11 – Repair or refurbishment of WEEE (Waste electrical and electronic equipment)
T12 – Manual treatment of waste
T13 – Treatment of waste food
T14 – Crushing and emptying waste vehicle oil filters
T15 – Treatment of waste aerosol cans
T16 – Treatment of waste toner cartridges by sorting, dismantling, cleaning or refilling
T17 – Crushing waste fluorescent tubes
T18 – Dewatering using flocculants
T19 – Physical treatment of waste edible oil and fat to produce biodiesel
T20 – Treatment of waste at a water treatment works
T21 – Recovery of waste at a waste water works
T22 – Treatment of animal by-product waste at a collection centre
T23 – Aerobic composting and associated prior treatment
T24 – Anaerobic digestion at premises used for agriculture and burning of resultant biogas
T25 – Anaerobic digestion at premises not used for agriculture and burning of resultant biogas
T26 – Treatment of kitchen waste in a wormery
T27 – Treatment of sheep dip for disposal
T28 – Sorting and denaturing of controlled medicines and drugs for disposal
T29 – Treatment of non-hazardous pesticides by carbon filtration for disposal
T30 – Recovery of silver
T31 – Recovery of monopropylene glycol from aircraft antifreeze fluids
T32 – Treatment of waste in a biobed or bio-filter
T33 – Recovery of central heating oil by filtration

S1 – Storage of waste in secure containers
S2 – Storage of waste in a secure place
S3 – Storage of sludge

D1 – Deposit of waste from dredging of inland waters
D2 – Deposit of waste from a railway sanitary convenience
D3 – Deposit of waste from a portable sanitary convenience
D4 – Deposit of agricultural waste consisting of plant tissue under a Plant Health Notice
D5 – Depositing samples of waste for the purposes of testing or analysing them
D6 – Disposal by incineration
D7 – Burning waste in the open
D8 – Burning waste at dock under a Plant Health Order Notice

360 Environmental Permit and Planning Applications

360 Environmental have submitted dozens of Environmental Permits and the associated planning applications on behalf of clients. 

These are shown here.