Since the Environment Agency and other government bodies or departments had their websites scrapped and moved to Gov.uk, it has often been difficult to find the information we need to carry out site assessments, check registrations etc. The web page www.gov.uk/government/organisations contains convenient links for the pages for the 46 ministerial and non ministerial departments, 361 agencies and other public bodies, 72 high profile groups, 11 public corporations and 3 devolved administrations which make up Gov.uk.
Some of those pages contain links to old websites that contain information which we were all used to and used regularly so it’s worth a recap. I’ve listed a few others outside Gov.uk below that are also of interest and will help to find the necessary information you may need if you do your own planning or permit applications or just check up on carriers and permitted sites.
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency which also contains links for other sites containing environmental information.
Download OS maps of your site and work out grid references http://www.streetmap.co.uk/
Current aerial photos at https://www.bing.com/maps/ or https://www.google.co.uk/ or search and install Google Maps for historical aerial photos as well. There are many commercial sites that charge for more detailed mapping, photos and environmental reports such as Emap, Groundsure, Landmark to name but a few.
To search for protected ecological sites search Natural England (on Gov.uk) or Natural Resources Wales’ site or Scottish Natural Heritage at http://www.snh.gov.uk .
All planning authorities have planning policy documents and policy maps online and further information can be found on the Planning Portal. If in doubt just do a web search as just about anything can be found with a little patience. We’re a long way from 1998 when I had to drive 20 miles to County Hall just to look at aerial photos and when I found the one I needed I had to pay for them!
Public Registers – Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010
What’s more important is how much information is held about your site on the public registers. In England and Wales there is a physical register as well as the limited online data. The list below is what your customers, suppliers, competitors and neighbours can obtain by visiting the local or regional office where the register is held. I’ve also noted how long certain records should be kept on the register and which ones should be withheld.
- Every application for the grant of an environmental permit, the variation of an environmental permit, the transfer of an environmental permit in whole or in part, or the surrender of an environmental permit in whole or in part. Every notice requesting further information under Schedule 5 (requests for further information on applications).
- All representations made in respect of an application for the grant or variation of an environmental permit (including from the public).
- Every environmental permit, variation, transfer in whole or in part, or surrender in whole or in part granted or made by the regulator.
- Every determination or decision notified in respect of an application or EA initiated variation.
- Every prohibition notice, enforcement notice, revocation notice, suspension notice, landfill closure notice or notice withdrawing such a notice served by the regulator.
- Every notice of appeal and associated documents, including representations.
- All information obtained by the regulator as a result of its own monitoring, as a result of monitoring required under an environmental permit condition, or under regulation 60 in relation to monitoring; all other information given to the regulator in compliance with an environmental permit condition, an enforcement notice, a suspension notice, a landfill closure notice or regulation 60 (information notice).
- Every report published by the regulator relating to an assessment of the environmental consequences of the operation of an installation.
- Every direction given to the regulator or the exemption registration authority by an appropriate authority under these Regulations, other than a direction affecting national security.
- Details of any conviction or formal caution for, or enforcement undertaking accepted in relation to an offence under regulation 38 in respect of an environmental permit granted by the regulator or a failure to apply to the regulator for the grant of an environmental permit.
- All fees and charges paid to a regulator and the total expenditure of that regulator in exercising its functions under these Regulations.
- The regulator may omit any representation from its public register at the request of the person making the representation, but the regulator must then include in the public register a statement that a representation was made and was the subject of such a request. The regulator may omit from its public register any representation which substantially duplicates a representation already included in the public register, but the regulator must then include on the register a statement of the number of representations that have been omitted on this basis. Similar provision applies to commercially or industrially confidential information.
- A regulator must remove details of any formal caution from its public register 5 years after the caution was given.
So if you disagree with inspection records, notices or anything else issued by the EA or Natural Resources Wales challenge it straight away as it will be available to all.
Marco Muia BSc (Hons) MSc MCIWM is the Managing Director of Oaktree Environmental Limited. He specialises in all aspects of waste planning and regulation consultancy. He also holds the level 4 COTCs for Hazardous Waste Treatment and Transfer. You can contact Marco on 01606 558833 if you have any questions about this article or e-mail him at mailto:[email protected]and follow him on Twitter @wastechat