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Survey on the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR)

This survey is being carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It asks several questions about the EPR to help us assess if they are achieving the anticipated benefits to regulators and industry of having a single regulatory system. This is to provide evidence for the periodic review of the EPR which is required by the Regulations, in relation to England. The review includes assessing whether the EPR system can be improved to reduce administrative burdens.

The survey is open until midnight on Sunday 14 March 2021, and is accessed at this link: Defra EPR survey

EPR Survey Privacy Notice

Please note that this survey is focussed on the impacts, costs and benefits of the EPR as a regulatory system. We are not asking about impacts of standards and measures in technical guidance, or about the performance of regulators[1]. Nor are we asking about the substantive content of Environmental Permits or requirements set through permit conditions (these largely flow from the individual functional regimes and would have needed to be implemented through alternative regimes in the absence of EPR).  Please note also that although the EPR apply in England and Wales, this survey relates only to England.

We are interested in respondents’ experience of the EPR system of regulation (especially if they held permissions under predecessor regimes) in England. For example:

  • have the EPR made it easier and simpler to apply for permits and changes to permits (including Standard Rules Permits and Exemptions) and reduced administrative overheads?
  • Have the EPR delivered the intended benefits of “flexibility”, such as single-site permits, Standard Rules Permits, exemptions, easier surrenders etc.?
  • views on reasonable and proportionate improvements to EPR regulation which could be made in the future.

We are particularly interested in financial assessments (positive or negative) of the administrative impacts of the EPR system of regulation and would welcome any estimates of these in your responses.

Objectives of the EPR
The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016 No 1154) are the current form of the EPR. They were first introduced as the EPR 2007, and then the EPR 2010. The 2016 Regulations consolidated EPR 2010 and 15subsequent amendments.

The EPR were introduced in 2007 to reduce administrative burdens on industry and regulators. They implemented a single regulatory system, initially for waste management licensing and pollution prevention and control permitting, which was intended to simplify the nuts and bolts of regulation – how permits are applied for, varied, transferred, revoked etc, along with compliance and enforcement provisions. This delivered on a Defra strategy commitment to modernise environmental permitting by progressively setting different regulatory streams on to a common footing, supported by more streamlined systems. The EPR were designed so that they could be extended to other permitting and compliance systems (as has happened since 2007), leading to further savings to industry and regulators. A key component is that it allows applicants to complete a single application, and to be issued with one permit, rather than needing several permits for activities falling under various regulations on a single site. The framework has also been used to transpose many EU Directives into domestic law.

The government’s Environmental Permitting Core Guidance

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/environmental-permitting-guidance-core-guidance–2  explains that the aim of the regime is to:

• protect the environment so that statutory and government policy environmental targets and outcomes are achieved;

• deliver permitting, and compliance with permits and certain environmental targets, effectively and efficiently, in a way that provides increased clarity and minimises the administrative burden on both the regulator and operators;

• encourage regulators to promote best practice in the operation of facilities

• continue to implement European legislation fully [this was relevant prior to EU exit, with several EU environmental protection requirements implemented through EPR e.g. the Medium Combustion Plant Directive]

The survey is being sent to participants in the Environment Agency’s Regulated Business Forum (RBF). The survey is voluntary. We would welcome responses from individual businesses within your own memberships, so please feel free to send this survey to your members as this will give Defra a fuller range and number of views and responses.

Please make sure that all responses given are representative of your organisation. Whilst responses should be made via the online link, we have attached a copy of the survey questions which may help you in collating your online response. The questions are multiple choice format, but there is an optional comments box for each question, and we would very much welcome any views or further or information you wish to submit. We estimate that the survey would take around 30 minutes to complete, and we would like to thank every respondent in advance for their time and consideration in answering the questions.

All responses to the online survey are anonymised, and any published data from the survey will be aggregated – no individual responses to this survey will be published. None of the questions are designed to elicit any personal data from respondents – please do not include any personal data (information that relates to an identified or identifiable individual) in any of the free text comments boxes in the survey. We have included a privacy notice in case any personal data is inadvertently submitted.

Any personal data received through survey responses would only be retained as explained in the accompanying privacy notice. Otherwise, data from this survey will be retained for seven years and the need for further retention will be reviewed at that time.

For any queries or further information regarding this survey, please contact:

Nick Webb | Environmental Regulations | Environmental Quality Directorate

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Tel: 07768730240 | Email: nick.webb@defra.gov.uk

[1] For example, please set aside any difficulties experienced as a result of delays to processing permit applications by the Environment Agency’s National Permitting Service due to the impacts of coronavirus during 2020. Updates on the situation, and actions being taken to address the permitting queues are provided here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-environment-agency-update.