Environment

Environmental Permitting

When is an Environmental Permit needed?

You will require an environmental permit if you are involved in the following activities:

  • manufacturing
  • power generation and other combustion processes
  • storage, treatment, use and disposal of waste
  • discharges to surface water and groundwater
  • radioactive substances
  • activities using solvents

Environmental permits allow an activity to be conducted lawfully and set conditions to safeguard the environment. Often, planning permission is required before an activity can be permitted.

Across the UK the permitting and pollution prevention legislation provides the principles and legal requirements for permitting, although the specific application and regulator varies across England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Who grants permission?

An appointed regulator will normally take several weeks to determine an application, depending upon the complexity of the activity, and will usually charge for determining and regulating the permit. Applications in England and Wales are made to the Environment Agency or relevant local authority, depending upon the nature of the activity. In Scotland, it is the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and in Northern Ireland, the regulator is the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. In countries such as Gibraltar, the Gibraltar Environmental Agency is assisted by the UK Environment Agency.

Which type of permit?

Many activities are covered by the standard rules permits, which provide a set of standard conditions for the permit holder. The activities for standard rules permits are:

  • Keeping/transfer of waste
  • Biological treatment of waste
  • Metal recovery/scrap metal
  • Materials recovery/recycling
  • Recovery or use of waste on land
  • Treatment to produce aggregate or construction materials
  • Water discharge activities
  • Groundwater activities
  • Radioactive substance activities
  • Mining waste operations
  • Flood risk activities
  • Onshore oil and gas exploration

Some activities only require permitting for air emissions. If your activity is of a smaller scale, it may be classified as a ‘Part B’ process. In this case, your permit will relate to air emissions alone and may be regulated by the local authority rather than the Environment Agency.

Air emissions need to fall within Emission Limit Values (ELVs), which are set according to the size and type of activity. Influencing factors include the age of the system, how it is powered and the technology involved. It can also be affected by the landscape nearby, especially if there is a conservation area or protected habitat nearby. ELVs have to be tested regularly in order for any permits to remain valid.

Bespoke permits are required for more complex processes. They are specific to your activity, and they involve a more detailed permit application with detailed evidence on the environmental performance of your facility and processes.

If your activity or process is very large and complex, an integrated environmental permit may be required. This will require in-depth technical assessments to detail every aspect that could affect the environment, and could include noise, air emissions, effluent/discharges to water, and discharges to land. Where the activity is sited, how it is managed, how it relates to inter-dependent facilities and waste management, climate change, and energy efficiency will be controlled.

How to make a permit application

To help you choose the best permitting option and approach, Engain can advise you which permitting route is most suitable for your activity and can coordinate and manage your permit at any stage.


To discuss whether you need a permit and what it would involve for you, call Engain on +44 (0)1225 459564 or enquiries@engain.com

Get in touch

To discuss your project requirements, please contact our experienced team