Local authority regulation
Under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, local authorities must regulate certain types of factory and other activities such as dry cleaners. This is to reduce any pollution they may cause and, in particular, to help improve air quality. Businesses which operate these premises must have a permit.
These premises are known as “installations”. Some are called ‘Part B’, and local authorities can only deal with air pollution from them. Many different sorts of pollution are controlled at ‘Part A2′ installations. The Part B regime is known as Local Air Pollution Prevention and Control (LAPPC), and the A2 regime as Local Authority Industrial Pollution Prevention and Control (LA-IPPC).
District or borough councils are normally the regulator. In areas with only one council (a Unitary Council), it is the regulator. The port health authority may be the regulator in port areas.
Local authorities deal with about 80 different types of installation. Glassworks and foundries, rendering plant and maggot breeders, petrol stations and concrete crushers, sawmills and paint manufacturers, are among the sorts regulated.
Applying for a permit
The operator of one of these installations must apply for a permit. He or she must pay a fee, to cover the local authority’s costs, for doing so. The regulations say what information must be in the application.
The local authority must consider the application to decide whether or not to approve it. The authority must consult relevant members of the public and other organisations.
If the authority decides to issue a permit, it must include conditions. These conditions will say how pollution is to be minimised. The government has published guidance for each type of installation. This says what are likely to be the right pollution standards. Under the law, the standards must strike a balance between protecting the environment and the cost of doing so. The authority must, by law, have regard to that guidance. The authority must also consider local circumstances.
Local authorities have powers, serve various sorts of legal notice, if a business does not comply with its permit or operates without one. They can also take the business to court, but authorities generally try to work with businesses to solve problems, and only use tough measures as a last resort. Their officers also often try to advise on money-saving ways of reducing pollution.
If the authority decides to refuse a permit, a business can appeal to the government. A business can also appeal if it has received a permit but does not agree with any of the conditions.
Once a permit is issued, the operator must comply with the permit conditions and pay an annual charge. This covers local authority costs of checking the permit is complied with.
Local authorities rate installations as high, medium or low risk. This is based on two things. First, what the environmental impact would be if something went wrong. Second, how reliable and effective the operator of the installation is. The annual charge is lower for low- and medium-risk installations.
Much of the information about permits must be put on a register that anyone can ask their local authority to see. The public must also be consulted in various circumstances.
The regulations also implement some European Community Directives.
Contact details for all local authorities can be found on Directgov. It is normally best to ask for the pollution team in the Environmental Services Department.
Other installations (known as ‘Part A1’) are regulated by the Environment Agency. They are usually larger or more complex.
This short summary only gives a basic outline. It should not be relied upon for any regulatory purpose.