New charging schemes would recognise good environmental performance

The Environment Agency is consulting on how it should re-vamp two permit charging schemes for companies based on the scale of their risk to the environment. Over 10,000 sites would be affected by the new schemes.

The Agency is proposing to move from the current system under which facilities pay a flat rate for emission permits irrespective of the risk that they pose to the environment, to one where facilities that pose the greatest risk will be subject to the greatest amount of regulatory effort, and consequently pay the highest charges. At the other end of the scale, facilities subject to good management practices, and with low innate environmental risk – for example, due to their emissions and whether they are located near housing developments or other environmentally sensitive areas – will pay the lowest amount.

“We believe that good operators should pay less than poor performers,” said Paul Leinster, Director of Environmental Protection at the Agency.

Interested parties are being asked to comment on two documents based on Operator and Pollution Risk Appraisal (OPRA) principles: Proposed Charging Scheme for Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations and Applying Waste OPRA to Waste Management Licensing Charges. The former outlines a proposal to produce a single charging system for all installations regulated under Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) legislation. The latter would use OPRA data from four previous quarterly scores to determine charges for waste management licences.

In July, the Environment Industries Commission (EIC) criticised the Agency’s plans to focus regulatory attention onto the worst polluters, saying that the scheme risked undermining pollution prevention (see related story). The Environment Agency has denied that this would be the case.

Responses to the consultation should be sent by 24 February to [email protected]; or by post to Amanda Bird, Environment Agency Finance Directorate, Rio House, Waterside Drive, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol BS32 4UD; or faxed to 0114 285 5643.

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