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Environmental permits: when and how you are charged


Environmental permits are legal documents issued by environmental regulators that allow businesses to undertake activities that could potentially harm the environment. These permits set out conditions that businesses must follow to minimise their environmental impact. One important aspect of environmental permits is how and when businesses are charged for them.

Key aspects of environmental permits include:

  • Application Process: Businesses must apply for an environmental permit from the relevant regulatory authority. The application process requires businesses to provide detailed information about their activities and the potential environmental risks they pose.
  • Application Fee: When applying for an environmental permit, businesses are usually required to pay an application fee. This fee covers the cost of processing the application and may vary depending on the complexity of the application and the level of environmental risk posed by the activities.
  • Additional Charges: In some cases, businesses may be required to pay additional charges for services such as site inspections, monitoring, or enforcement actions. These charges are usually based on the actual costs incurred by the regulatory authority in carrying out these activities.
  • Annual Charges: In addition to the initial application fee, businesses are often required to pay an annual charge to maintain their environmental permit. This charge may be adjusted based on changes in the business’s activities or environmental performance.
  • Timing of Charges: Charges for environmental permits are typically invoiced by the regulatory authority and must be paid within a specified timeframe. Failure to pay the required charges can result in the suspension or revocation of the permit.
  • Charging Scheme: The charging scheme for environmental permits varies depending on the type of permit and the activities being carried out. Charges may be based on the size and nature of the business, the level of risk posed to the environment, and the regulatory costs associated with issuing and monitoring the permit.
  • Payment Methods: The payment methods for environmental permit charges can vary. Regulatory authorities may accept payment by bank transfer, credit/debit card, or cheque. Some authorities may also offer online payment options for convenience.
  • Payment Structure: Fees for environmental permits are typically structured to cover the costs of issuing and enforcing the permit. These costs may include site visits, monitoring activities, and enforcement actions.

Environmental permit guidance was most recently updated on the 21st of February 2024 and applies to the United Kingdom.

environmental permit

Do environmental permits impact my business?

There are several implications for businesses, including:

  • Cost Considerations: Environmental permits can represent a significant cost for businesses, particularly for those operating in high-risk industries or with complex environmental impacts. Understanding the charging scheme and associated costs is essential for financial planning and compliance.
  • Compliance Requirements: Businesses must comply with the conditions set out in their environmental permits to avoid fines, penalties, or permit revocation. Understanding the charging scheme can help businesses better manage their compliance obligations.
  • Competitiveness: Compliance with environmental regulations, including the requirements for environmental permits, can enhance a business’s reputation and competitiveness. Conversely, non-compliance can lead to reputational damage and loss of business opportunities.

Understanding how and when businesses are charged for environmental permits is crucial for compliance and financial planning. By adhering to the requirements set out in their permits and paying the necessary fees, businesses can minimise their environmental impact and ensure the sustainability of their operations.

Do I need environmental permit guidance in my ISO Compliance Register?

Businesses across a wide range of industries may require environmental permits, including:

  • Manufacturing facilities;
  • Waste management operations;
  • Chemical processing plants;
  • Agricultural operations; and
  • Construction sites.

If your business is included in the list above then we strongly recommend adding the environmental permit guidance to your ISO Compliance Register.

Legislation related to environmental permits

Legislation related to environmental permits include:

  • The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010
  • The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016

More information

Visit environmental permits guidance on the website.