Environment Agency launches consultation on business charges proposals

The Environment Agency (EA) is to review the cost of its permits and business charges after launching a public consultation yesterday (30 November).

Proposals detailed in the EA’s Strategic Review of Charges are designed to reduce the burden of business regulation on the public coffers, with businesses to bear the full cost of the EA’s services they use as opposed to having them subsidised by the public purse.

Environment Agency launches consultation on business charges proposalsThis will be the biggest review of charges ever carried out by the EA and has involved a 12-month period of engagement with businesses and trade associations to aid the development of the proposals. Up until this point, only minor changes have been made to the EA’s business charges since 2011, with all costs kept below inflation.

The new proposals aim to bring about a simplified and more consistent charging arrangement to reflect the amount of regulatory effort needed at a given site. Well-managed and low-hazard businesses presenting a low environmental risk would be charged less, while higher-risk or poor-performing businesses would be charged more.

A corollary of the implementation of the new charges would be the freeing up of funds to invest in the EA’s permitting service, which aims to improve standards in sectors such as waste management or nuclear.

Pertaining to the waste management sector, the following proposed changes include:

  • The hazardous waste treatment sector will see an overall decrease in charges;

  • The non-hazardous waste sector’s overall income will see a slight overall reduction, but this varies across the different permit categories;

  • The biowaste treatment sector will see increased charges. A sector with many resource intensive amenity issues, larger biowaste facilities will see charges increasing by around 100 per cent, while the smaller sites will see costs remain broadly the same; and

  • The metal recycling sites will see increases throughout the charge categories, with those larger sites recently falling to control under the Industrial Emission Directive requiring more resources than was envisaged under previous charging regimes.

Commenting on the launch of the consultation, Neil Davies, EA Director of Regulated Services, said: “Our work to regulate industry protects and enhances the environment. The proposed changes will mean that businesses pay for the full services they use rather than the public. This is more financially-sustainable, will lead to a better service to businesses and long-term improvements to the environment.

“We have been engaging with trade associations over the last year while we were developing these proposals. Their input into this process has been really valuable and I urge them to take part in the consultation.”

The consultation will run until 12 January 2018 with the proposed changes being introduced in April 2018.

You can have your say on the proposals by participating in the consultation on the EA’s website