Environmental permits

If your business can affect the environment – for example by causing air pollution through release of smoke, dust or solvent fumes; or by creating water or land contamination – you probably need an environmental permit. This is a requirement of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.

The permit sets out limits on the pollution your business can make at your premises and from any mobile plant, and what you need to do to prevent and control pollution.

  1. Summary of businesses needing an environmental permit
  2. Check the legislation for the full list
  3. Contact the team to get our expert opinion

How to apply for an environmental permit

  1. You can apply by post – you complete the application form, enclose the correct fee and post it back to us at the address given on the form. To obtain the form, you can either download the application form, apply online, or contact the health and environment team and we will post it to you.
  2. We will usually send an Environmental Protection Officer to check your pollution control measures and working practices.
  3. If the council is satisfied that everything is in order, we will issue you with the permit. You will only be granted a permit if the council is sure that you will operate your business in line with permit conditions.

What is the application fee?

The fees are set by Central Government. They change every year and vary from one type of business to another.They also vary depending on your environmental performance – this is calculated using a risk assessment based on the outcome of inspection.

Check the Government’s current fee schedule.

How we deal with your application

The whole process of getting a permit is governed by legislation.

View the Government’s General Guidance Manual.

This Guidance Manual covers the whole environmental permitting process. It gives a good overview of what you can expect from us.

Once we have received your application we will ensure that all appropriate pollution prevention methods are taken, through the best available techniques, and that no significant pollution is caused. We will need you to provide information about your pollution control equipment, methods and working practices.

We may need to advertise your application to the wider community, to allow local residents to comment. We may also need to consult other agencies - such as NHS Tower Hamlets, adjoining local authorities or the Petroleum Inspectorate. What we have to do depends largely on the nature of your business. We must consider any comments made in relation to your application.

If we intend to attach an off-site condition to your permit we will provide notice to you, or the owner, lessee or occupier of the land if that is not you.

Although much of the content of any permit is set down in Government guidance, you will always be given the opportunity to comment on permit conditions. We want to work with businesses to ensure that permits reflect real working practices and only impose essential pollution controls.

Timescales for your application

Once your application is ‘duly made’ (there is no missing information and you have paid the correct fee), the legislation gives us four months to process your application (except for dry cleaners and small waste oil burners, for which we are allowed three months). If you have not received your permit within that timescale, then the legislation allows you to assume it has been refused and you can appeal (see below). Note that it is in the public interest that the council must process your application before it can be granted. If you have made an application for a permit you can contact us at any time during the application process – we are always very happy to help applicants or to answer questions.

Complaints and appeals

If you application is refused, you should be clearly informed of the reasons for this. If your application is approved with conditions, you should have been able to comment on conditions when your permit was being written. If after the process you still don’t agree with what the permit imposes on your business, or you’re not clear why it was refused, please contact us.

If you want to challenge this decision, we have an internal complaints procedure, and you should use that first. Please contact us and say that you want your complaint dealt with by a senior manager. You can also lodge a Corporate Complaint. Please note that you do not have to use our internal procedure – you can go straight to the legal appeal.

You also have the legal right to appeal against a decision to the Planning Inspectorate. Appeals must be made in writing and give the reasons for your appeal. The appeal time will vary dependent upon the type of appeal. For a failed application or appeal against a condition, the must appeal be made within six months of the decision.

What do businesses have to do once they have an Environmental Permit?

You must comply with any conditions attached to a permit. Your business will be regularly inspected to make sure you are complying. Failure to comply may lead to enforcement action. You have to pay an annual subsistence fee to keep your permit, which is laid down by Central Government.

Complaints from the public or from other businesses

The public and other businesses may complain to the council about pollution from a business, or they may inform us about polluting activities. Environmental Protection Officers will investigate and if permit conditions are being broken, enforcement action may be taken.

Contact us

Health and Environment Team
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Mulberry Place (AH)
5 Clove Crescent
E14 1BY
PO Box 55739

Tel: 020 7364 5008
Fax: 020 7364 6831

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