The regulatory bodies, the Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Natural Resources Wales have provided guidance and regulatory responses to COVID-19.
Environment Agency (the Agency)
The Agency updated their Regulatory Position Statements (RPS’s) on 6th April 2020 in response to COVID-19.
The Agency expects businesses to comply with regulatory requirements and minimise non-compliances through contingency plans. However, the RPS’s aim to provide regulatory flexibility to help businesses cope with disruption posed by COVID-19 which may result in non-compliance with certain regulatory requirements.
Each COVID-19 RPS sets out when they apply and the specific conditions which must be complied with. All other environmental regulatory requirements must still be complied with.
The three RPS’s issued comprise the following:
RPS C1: Storing or treating COVID-19 cleansing waste (waste code 15 02 02*) at a healthcare waste management facility;
RPS C2: Exceeding waste storage limits at permitted site because of COVID-19; and
RPS C3: Water and sewerage company Operator Self-Monitoring (OSM) and Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations 1994 (UWWTR) sampling affected by COVID-19.
RPS C1 allows the storage and treatment of infectious or potentially infectious waste (EWC code 15 02 02*) at a healthcare waste management facility which is permitted to accept 18 01 03*.
RPS C2 allows the temporary storage of waste above permitted storage limits if you cannot remove waste from your site due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Agency MUST be notified of the intention to use this COVID-19 RPS.
RPS C3 allows the reduction in regulatory sampling for treated sewage effluent and trade effluent only where COVID-19 has resulted in staff shortages or restricted access. Written agreement MUST be obtained from the Agency water company account manager before use of this COVID-19 RPS.
RPS C1 and C3 will be withdrawn on 30th June 2020 and RPS C2 will be withdrawn on 30th September 2020 unless the Agency decides to extend the dates.
It is expected that further position statements may be issued by the Agency regarding other compliance requirements.
For further information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/covid-19-regulatory-position-statements
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
SEPA have also published a regulatory response to COVID-19. SEPA expects regulated businesses to meet their environmental obligations.
If a regulated business is unable to meet all its obligations under a licence, permit or other authorisations SEPA expects the business to:
Prioritise compliance with conditions that directly protect the environment over those that are indirect controls or more administrative in nature;
Alert SEPA as early as possible if it believes it will be unable to meet any obligations and work closely with SEPA on making choices and finding solutions; and
Keep a clear record of choices made and actions taken.
Where compliance with the requirements of permits or with other environmental regulatory requirements is not possible SEPA may temporarily take a specific regulatory position.
Any failure therefore to comply with those requirements will not be treated as a non-compliance for compliance assessment or enforcement purposes only in the event that non-compliance is unavoidable and solely as a direct result of COVID-19 and will not lead to significant environmental harm.
Temporary regulatory positions will be published on SEPA’s COVID-19 hub.
A temporary regulatory position is available for waste management and provides guidance on the following:
General arrangements at authorised waste management facilities
Duty of care and transfer notes
Hazardous waste and special waste consignment notes
Transfrontier Shipment of Waste
For further information visit: https://coronavirus.sepa.org.uk/regulatory-position/
Natural Resources Wales (NRW)
NRW have not published a regulatory response to the COVID-19 pandemic regarding compliance.
Although a briefing note has been issued by NRW to Operators of a regulated activity.
NRW expects all Operators to continue to meet the conditions of all permits and licences which includes developing contingency plans and putting appropriate measures in place.
NRW expect to be informed of any issues that are likely to result in non-compliance or increased environmental risk, at the earliest opportunity.
For further information visit: https://naturalresourceswales.gov.uk/about-us/news-and-events/statements/our-response-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic/?lang=en
If you operate a regulated activity under a local authority permit please refer to the local authority to which your activity is regulated for guidance in response to COVID-19.
TerraConsult would like to inform all of its Clients that it is ‘business as usual’. If you are unsure how the above regulatory position statements may apply to your business or require any support please get in touch.