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COVID-19: Exceeding Waste Storage Limits

Posted on 8th April, 2020

The Environment Agency has issued a regulatory position statement (RPS C2) in respect of exceeding waste storage limits on permitted sites because of COVID-19.  Whilst the Environment Agency expects site operators to comply with the waste storage limits as detailed in their environmental permit, the RPS does allow some relaxation of the rules.

The COVID-19 RPS only applies:

  • if you can demonstrate that you need to temporarily store more waste than your permit allows because of COVID-19 restrictions
  • to wastes you are authorised to store under your permit

Importantly, the COVID-19 RPS does not apply to any other activity, even if it is under the same legislation. You may still need other permits or licences for other activities you carry out.

You must be able to demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to comply with your permit. Reasonable steps can include:

  • contingency planning to avoid or minimise disruption to your business because of COVID-19
  • COVID-19 response planning to minimise the impact and duration of not being able to comply with your permit or licence
  • minimising how far you exceed your waste storage limits.

Exceeding Waste Storage Limits – Conditions

In order to comply and make use of the RPS you must:

  1. comply with all the other requirements on your permit
  2. stop accepting waste at your site if there is a risk to human health or the environment
  3. have written agreement from the landowner before you increase the amount of waste you store, if you are not the landowner
  4. notify the Environment Agency in writing, in advance of the types and quantities of waste you want to store over your permitted limits
  5. store all waste within the permitted site boundary
  6. keep all storage areas secure to prevent unauthorised access
  7. manage the waste you receive on site on a strict rotation basis, so waste received on the site first is removed from the site first and that you separate waste of different storage age
  8. make sure all waste above the limits in your permit is removed from site within 3 months unless the Environment Agency has agreed otherwise in writing – and in all cases by the expiry date on this COVID-19 RPS (30 September 2020)
  9. do a written review of the risks of storing additional waste and how it will affect any plans, for example your management system and fire prevention plan
  10. make a record of any changes you make to your plans and comply with them – you must make the record of change available to all your staff and to the Environment Agency on request
  11. keep records to show that you have complied with the conditions in this COVID-19 RPS for 24 months – these must be available to the Environment Agency on request

The Environment Agency’s RPS makes clear that site operators must not store a type of waste that is not on their permit or store waste for more than 3 months unless this has been agreed in writing with the Environment Agency.

Operators must also ensure that temporarily increasing the amount of waste stored does not endanger human health or the environment. Operators must not:

  • cause a risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals
  • cause a nuisance through noise or odours
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest

Places of Special Interest include but are not limited to:

  • European sites (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas)
  • Ramsar sites
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest
  • national and local nature reserves
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Marine Conservation Zones
  • National Parks

As a result of the RPS, the Environment Agency will not normally take enforcement action against a site operator provided:

  • your activity meets the description set out in this COVID-19 RPS
  • you comply with the conditions set out in this COVID-19 RPS
  • your activity does not, and is not likely to, cause environmental pollution or harm human health
  • you have taken all reasonable steps to comply with your permit

Site operators wishing to make use of the RPS should email the Environment Agency (enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk) and title the email “Waste COVID-19 RPS C2 – ‘For information’.”

If you require advice regarding complying with your environmental permit, please contact one of the Jacksons team.

Waste storage
Relaxation of waste storage rules

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