Certain businesses are required to ensure that they are controlling the amount they pollute.
In the UK the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016, set out which businesses are required by law to be regulated. These businesses will need an environmental permit to operate. If they operate without a permit they are breaking the law and can be prosecuted.
The legislation provides a framework for operators of processes listed in Schedule 1 of the Regulations to apply to the local council or the Environment Agency to obtain a permit to carry out the activities. These activities are classified as follows:
Part A (1): Large, potentially highly polluting activities such as British Steel and Koppers. These are regulated by the Environment Agency, and enquiries about these should be directed to them.
Part A(2): Medium scale processes. These are regulated by local councils for various aspects of the operations including emissions to land, water and air, energy and raw materials usage, waste minimisation, accident prevention and noise emissions.
Part B: Smaller and less energy intensive activities. Again regulated by local councils but the scope is restricted to emissions to air.
Any person operating a process for which a permit is required must submit an application, with a fee, to the council or Environment Agency. They will then issue an environmental permit in accordance with Government guidance, which will include a number of conditions.
The operator of the process must then comply with the permit conditions and it is the role of the Environmental Health (Commercial) Team to inspect the processes to ensure compliance. The council can prosecute operators who do not comply with the conditions of the permit.