14 April 2020

Exceeding waste storage limits at permitted sites – EA issues Covid-19 RPS

Businesses that store waste need to do so in accordance with a strict permitting regime, imposed and enforced by the Environment Agency (EA). To help manage waste, the EA has issued a Covid-19 regulatory position statement (RPS) allowing environmental waste permit holders to temporarily store more waste than their permit allows if the waste cannot be removed because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Normally, a business would need to apply for a permit variation for this, but that is not needed if you comply with the conditions set in the RPS. You must contact the EA via email before you use the RPS, and you must be able to demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to comply with your permit.

The RPS details a number of conditions to be adhered to, including:

  • complying with all the other requirements on your permit
  • not accepting waste at your site if there is a risk to human health or the environment
  • obtaining necessary written consents from the landowner before increasing the amount of waste.

Please refer to the RPS for full details of the conditions.

The Covid-19 RPS means that the EA will not normally take enforcement action against you provided your activity meets the description set out in the RPS and you comply with the conditions. You must not cause environmental pollution or harm human health and must been seen to have taken all reasonable steps to comply with your permit.

Appropriate document keeping will be very important to be able to protect your position if the EA considers you may have acted outside the RPS. Indeed, the EA directs that records must be kept for 24 months as evidence of compliance and these will have to be made available on request.

The RPS will be withdrawn on 30 September 2020 unless extended.

For full details of the RPS guidance please see the following link here.

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Bryn Thomas, Partner

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