EA changes the way it scores environmental breaches in CAR forms

The Environment Agency (EA) has contacted stakeholders in the waste sector to advise them of changes it has made in relation to the scoring of environmental breaches in compliance assessment reports (CAR’s). The changes relate to management system conditions in relation to pollution, Management System condition A (MSA) and Management System condition B (MSB).


MSA states that operators must have a written management plan which identifies and minimises the risk of pollution. Operators must carry out operations and activities on site in accordance with that written management plan. MSB requires the written plan to be reviewed regularly in order to ensure that it is updated as necessary. The conditions were brought in on 7th April 2019 and apply to certain waste permits granted before 6th April 2008, where the existing permit did not contain a “condition referring to a management system recorded in writing relating to risks relating to pollution”. The measure was introduced as a way of enabling sites to be regulated without operators having to go to the expense of varying their permits.

Working Plan

The EA has confirmed that it will no longer regulate, score or enforce MSA and MSB conditions where environmental permits contain conditions referring to a “working plan”. It will, instead, regulate, score and enforce the conditions in the working plan. However, the EA has also indicated that where the permit conditions and working plan conditions do not adequately protect people or the environment, it will consider initiating a permit review to bring the permit in line with current standards.

There is a question mark over how practical this measure is given the significant backlogs in permitting which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. On 12th July the EA published its guidance in relation to enclosed buildings at waste facilities and appropriate measures aimed at managing emissions. It has been suggested that current operating techniques would be assessed against the relevant appropriate measures by way of permit review, but this would be unlikely to happen for some time due to permitting backlogs. It would appear that the raft of new measures being introduced by the EA is placing increasing pressure on an already stretched resource.

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