In April 2008, the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007 came into force. The regulations replaced and brought together the previous waste management licensing and Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) systems under one environmental permitting regime.
A consequence of this regulatory change is that local authorities now require the consent of the Secretary of State before instituting proceedings for statutory nuisances such as odour, noise, smoke, dust, artificial light and accumulations from a waste operation (i.e. a site regulated by the Environment Agency under an environmental permit or requiring registration as an exempt waste operation). Prior to April 2008, the Secretary of State’s consent was only required in respect of the PPC regime.
The changes to the statutory nuisance provisions were made to avoid an operator being subject to ‘double jeopardy’; i.e. to ensure a local authority may not begin summary proceedings against an operator for nuisance, where proceedings can be brought by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Permitting Regulations. DEFRA officials are currently working with relevant stakeholders (i.e. the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) and the Environment Agency) on the provision of future supplementary guidance on the factors to be taken into consideration in dealing with applications for the Secretary of State’s consent.