MARCO MUIA BSc (Hons) MSc MCIWM, Managing Director

at Oaktree Environmental Limited. Marco specialises in all aspects of waste planning and regulation consultancy. He also holds the level 4 COTCs for Hazardous Waste Treatment and Transfer.

01606 558833 | Twitter @wastechat.

Business Clinic


The three evils

THE three evils is not an expression that many are familiar with in the context of environmental permitting. Even Google draws a blank on the phrase. During an operator technical competence assessment by an Environment Agency officer over 15 years ago a client looked puzzled when the officer asked: “Can you list the three evils for me?”

I was equally confused as I knew what he meant but didn’t see the relevance of the question. Had he asked about Article 13 of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) [Directive 2008/98/EC] would it have made more sense? Well, it’s not something that most people consider but it has a significant bearing on whether you can hold on to your registered waste exemption if you have a problem.

In summary Article 13 requires that: “Member States shall take the

necessary measures to ensure that waste management is carried out without endangering human health, without harming the environment and, in particular:

(a) without risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals;

(b) without causing a nuisance through noise or odours; and

(c) without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest.” 46

Schedule 2 to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 (Paragraph 4) explains the requirements for exempt waste operations (in summary – my words).


Schedule 3 exempt waste operations are subject to the general and specific conditions specified in the paragraph under which they are registered.

• •

Those conditions specify the type and quantity of waste submitted to the waste operation, and the method of disposal or recovery.

The operations are consistent with the need to attain the objectives mentioned in Article 13 of the Waste Framework Directive.

In other words, if you cannot meet the requirements of Article 13 your exemption(s) could be deregistered. I have seen multiple correspondence exchanges between the Agency and operators quoting Article 13 and the requirements are explicitly listed on exemption registrations. How broad an interpretation you should make as an enforcement body is open to question but keeping a tidy exempt operation is essential to avoid scrutiny and potential revocation, especially at a time when the Agency is pushing for exemptions to be removed and replaced with permits. Poorly operated exempt sites only fuel the argument for permitting.

The 2016 Regulations also give the regulator power to prevent or remedy pollution (Regulation 57) i.e. “If the regulator considers that a risk of serious pollution exists as a result of the operation of a regulated facility or an exempt facility, it may arrange for steps to be taken to remove that risk.”

So not only can the regulator revoke your exemption they can also arrange for steps to be taken to remedy the effects of pollution if it suspects that an offence under that regulation is being or has been committed and that pollution is being or has been caused as a result. In doing so they can complete the work and send you the bill. To avoid this you have to prove that there was no risk of serious pollution or that the costs were unnecessarily incurred by the regulator. If you end up in court or an appeal with photos of a messy site, good luck proving what constitutes serious pollution. Far better to keep a clean site and stay out of court.

The purpose of the notes above is to point out that exemptions are a privilege because they are mostly free and don’t get visited as often, etc. Don’t lose them.

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