EA waters down ‘low impact’ criteria

New regulations will make it easier for industrial installations to qualify as having a low environmental impact - leading to reduced charges from the Environment Agency.

In reviewing its guidance on Pollution Prevention Control (PPC), which set limits on how much pollution a company can emit, the agency has concluded that a large number of workplaces currently paying the standard rate actually require less regulation as the environmental threat they pose it minimal and should therefore benefit from a reduced bill.

The benchmarks which previously meant an installation was considered low impact have been increased – in the case of releasing waste water, for example, a ‘low impact’ facility can now pump out 50m³ rather than the previous limit of 20m³.

“Many businesses under PPC have a genuinely low environmental impact potential, so need minimal regulatory effort from the Environment Agency,” said Martin Bigg, the EA’s heaqd of industry regulation.

“The existing low impact installation qualifying criteria was difficult for such operators to meet and so following a review, the Environment Agency has amended the criteria to provide a broader approach.

“The low impact installation guidance and charging scheme was introduced voluntarily by the Environment Agency in 2000, although it is under no legal obligation to do so.

“Following a recent consultation with a number of trade bodies and in agreement with Defra, more installations will potentially be classified as low impact installations, allowing them to benefit from reduced PPC charges.”

Waste production, emissions of polluting substances and energy consumption are just some of the changes to the criteria.

“These changes, which came into force on 26 June 2006, do not pose a risk on the environment,” said Dr Bigg.

“It ensures a fairer charging scheme for good environmental performers in industry and is in keeping with the Environment Agency’s commitment to a proportionate, risk-based approach to modern regulation.”

Sam Bond

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