Agency reassures industry that it is acting on plant licensing for remediation

The Environment Agency moved to reassure industry that it is responding to criticisms over land remediation regulations, this week, and said the system is changing to streamline the process.

Speaking at the International Clean Up conference in Birmingham, Cormac Quigley, Waste Policy Advisor to the Agency, told delegates that, as of July, new licensing arrangements and clarifications of guidance would ease the remediation arrangements across the country.

Industry figures had complained that the system of mobile plant licensing was inconsistently applied across different authorities particularly in approving site specific working plans and that there was a delay in processing the licence applications in the first place.

In addition, the arrangements were said to be inflexible in that they did not allow for the treatment of groundwater by mobile plant, that a separate licence was needed to deploy different pieces of kit at the same time, and that the licences didn't cover the importation and treatment of waste soils or groundwater.

"These was general confusion as to what permits were needed for what activity and what the regulatory position is in respect of the remediation of contaminated land," Mr Quigley said.

In response, the Agency is setting up a network of account managers to help license holders. They will ensure the same rules apply throughout the country and speed up the processing through developing a deployment form which will identify site specific information.

From July, a single mobile plant licence will be able to authorise a series of plant that could operate singly or in combination at different sites at the same time. The licences will also cover the importation and treatment of waste soils, and allow for treatment of groundwater in England.

However, current licences will have to be changed to accommodate this new approach.

"The Agency is committed to the sustainable redevelopment of brownfield sites," Mr Quigley said. "These changes to the mobile plant licencing arrangements will seriously relieve the burden from industry."

By David Hopkins



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