We provide some information from the EA, NRW and SEPA regarding regulatory responses to coronavirus (COVID-19) in relation to waste management.
Environment Agency (EA)
The EA has published its approach to regulation and enforcement during the coronavirus outbreak where they recognise the challenges you face in these exceptional circumstances. The document sets out their priorities, expectations, approach to enforcement during the coronavirus outbreak and information on COVID-19 regulatory position statements. See the document – Environment Agency regulatory response to coronavirus.
The EA has also published these time-limited COVID-19 regulatory position statements (RPSs) in relation to certain regulatory requirements.
They will help minimise risks to the environment and human health where, for reasons beyond your control, compliance with certain regulatory requirements may not be possible due to coronavirus. They also cover specific circumstances where the EA are relaxing normal regulatory requirements. This is to avoid increasing risks to the environment or human health during the particular circumstances of the coronavirus outbreak.
Each COVID-19 RPS sets out when they apply and the conditions you must comply with. You must still comply with all of your other environmental regulatory requirements.
If you wish to use a COVID-19 RPS you must comply with both its:
specific conditions – including any requirements to notify the EA or get their approval to use it
requirements concerning pollution and harm to human health
If you do this, the EA will not normally take enforcement action against you.
See the Waste Management (excluding radioactive waste) Regulatory Position Statements below:
Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) regulatory response to coronavirus
Regarding the following regulatory decisions (RD), it applies as a temporary emergency contingency measure only and is subject to review.
Regulatory Decision-RBB-C19-017: Coronavirus response – exceeding waste storage limits at permitted sites
This regulatory decision (RD) applies to the temporary exceedance of waste storage limits at a Permitted waste operation without applying for a permit variation as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic only.
You usually need to meet the conditions laid out in your environmental permit regarding storage of waste materials. However, if you follow the conditions in this RD you can temporarily exceed these limits. To read in full click here.
RBB-C19-004: Providing signatures on waste documentation during the Coronavirus pandemic.
This Regulatory Decision (RD) applies to the record-keeping requirements for transfers of non-hazardous and consignment of hazardous waste. It has been created due to concerns with spreading Coronavirus. Waste handlers usually need to provide a signature on the documentation recording transfers and consignments to prove confirmation of the parties involved. However, if you follow the conditions in this RD you can complete the transfer or consignment without providing signatures of the parties involved. To read in full, click here.
Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s (SEPA) regulatory response to COVID-19
During this period, SEPA expect regulated businesses to make their best endeavours to meet their environmental obligations and are helping regulated businesses to adjust and adapt, recognising that resources and capacities are severely constrained.
They are clear they expect everyone they regulate to make their best endeavours to meet their environmental obligations. If a regulated business is unable to meet all its obligations under SEPA’s licence, permit or other authorisations because of these exceptional circumstances, we expect the business to:
prioritise compliance with conditions that directly protect the environment over those that are indirect controls or more administrative in nature;
alert them as early as possible if it believes it will be unable to meet any obligations and work closely with them on making choices and finding solutions;
keep a clear record of choices made and actions taken.
If a regulated business behaves in line with these principles, SEPA will take a proportionate and reasonable approach to how we assess compliance during the public health emergency.
SEPA will continue to use a variety of means of checking compliance including phone calls, issuing written advice, remotely managed technologies such as drones, targeted site and field visits and other forms of intelligence gathering.’
To read more about SEPA’s regulatory approach visit www.coronavirus.sepa.org.uk
To read SEPA’s Position Statement – Covid-19 – Waste Management click here