Environmental permitting

metal workings of a dry cleaning machine

Businesses that operate a range of processes that could cause pollution to the environment must obtain an environmental permit. If your activity appears on the schedule of processes included in the legislation, it is an offence to operate that process without a valid permit, or in contravention of any conditions attached to that permit.

A regulated facility includes:

  • installations or mobile plants carrying out listed activities
  • waste operations
  • waste mobile plants
  • mining waste operations

Listed activities include:

  • energy - burning fuel, gasification, liquification and refining activities
  • metals - manufacturing and processing metals
  • minerals - manufacturing lime, cement, ceramics or glass
  • chemicals - manufacturing chemicals, pharmaceuticals or explosives; storing chemicals in bulk
  • waste - incinerating waste, operating landfills, recovering waste
  • solvents - using solvents
  • other - manufacturing paper, pulp and board; treating timber products; coating, treating textiles and printing; manufacturing new tyres; intensive pig and poultry farming

Listed activities are divided into three categories: Part A (1), Part A (2) and Part B

Part A permits control activities within a range of environmental impacts including:

  • emissions to air, land and water
  • energy efficiency
  • waste reduction
  • raw materials consumption
  • noise, vibration and heat
  • accident prevention

Permits for the highest risk processes (known as A1 processes) are dealt with by the Environment Agency. Lower risk processes are regulated by the council and fall into two categories, A2 and B. A2 processes are regulated for their possible impact on land, air and water, whereas category B processes are only regulated for their effects on air.

The permit your business requires depends on the specific processes involved and resulting emissions.

  • Part A(1) installations or mobile plants are regulated by the Environment Agency
  • Part A(2) and Part B installations or mobile plants are regulated by the local authority, except waste operations carried out at Part B installations which are regulated by the Environment Agency
  • waste operations or waste mobile plant carried other than at an installation, or by Part A or Part B mobile plants, are regulated by the Environment Agency
  • mining waste operations are regulated by the Environment Agency


To apply for category A2 and B permits, please use our application form. You will need to include specified information which will vary depending on the operation.

The permit is designed to ensure that the process operator uses 'best available techniques' (BAT) to control pollution. These might include limiting the use of some types of chemical, or treating emissions before they are discharged. The use of these techniques is similar to the best practicable means defence against action for causing statutory nuisance, so permitted processes are exempt from action under nuisance legislation.

The current environmental permitting scheme is defined by the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. Please note that permitting schemes are constantly evolving and being revised, and if you are operating a permitted process you must ensure that you are using up-to-date guidance. The current guidance is the April 2012 issue of the General Guidance Manual which is available from Defra.

Apply for a permit