Regulation of energy from waste

The following Energy practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Regulation of energy from waste
  • Who is responsible for regulating EfW?
  • Role of the EA
  • Role of the local authority
  • Guidance
  • EU Directives
  • Industrial Emissions Directive
  • Landfill Directive
  • Environmental permits
  • Planning
  • More...

Regulation of energy from waste

All waste facilities, including energy from waste (EfW) incinerators, are regulated to prevent or minimise any risks to the environment or health. There is an extensive range of regulations and directives which control how and where EfW plants can be used.

Who is responsible for regulating EfW?

Local authorities regulate most small (less than one tonne/hour waste) incinerators. The Environment Agency (EA) regulates all incinerators that burn hazardous waste as well as other incinerators that burn non-hazardous waste at a rate of more than one tonne per hour. The EA also regulates all EfW plants burning municipal waste to make sure that the emissions are as low as possible to protect the environment and human health. For more information on the technologies to convert waste to energy, see Practice Note: Waste to energy—technologies.

Role of the EA

The EA is responsible for:

  1. assessing and consulting on applications for environmental permits

  2. ensuring that the standards used in designing, maintaining and operating EfW plants meet European standards

  3. requiring emission monitoring to measure concentrations of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, hydrogen chloride, and carbon monoxide

  4. carrying out on-site auditing of operator monitoring

  5. carrying out regular site inspections

  6. requiring operators to inform the EA within 24 hours if any of the emission limits set out in the environmental permit are exceeded, or if any of

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