Q&As

What does coronavirus (COVID-19) mean for environmental compliance in areas such as environmental permitting?

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Published on LexisPSL on 08/01/2021

The following Environment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What does coronavirus (COVID-19) mean for environmental compliance in areas such as environmental permitting?

What issues of compliance might arise?

Permit holders are generally expected to comply in full with the terms and conditions of their permit. However, due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), regulators acknowledge that such compliance may not be possible. There may be necessary changes in operation, such as changes to production of items necessary to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Staff shortages may disrupt continued business operation, and may prevent compliance with the requirements of an environmental management system. Staff shortage may also affect key competencies. Waste management issues due to changes in collection and/or the generation of new types of waste, could also affect compliance.

How are regulators responding?

Regulators need to consider the welfare of their own staff, alongside the disruption to their own business processes as a result of COVID-19. Relevant regulators are now clarifying their position on compliance through letters, guidance and in the case of the Environment Agency (EA), the publication of COVID-19 regulatory position statements (RPSs).

On the whole, regulators are tending towards a relaxation of regulation where strict compliance is not possible. However, according to the chemical safety and regulatory intelligence network Chemical Watch, regulations concerning pollution and the control of chemicals in products is ‘ramping up, not slowing down’. For further information see: Regulatory environment ramping up amid Covid-19 pandemic, say industry experts.

Environment Agency

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