Posted on December 9, 2014 by Stuart Simington
Resource recovery, waste processing and storage facilities licence thresholds reduced
The burden on councils (particularly those in the regulated area) as regulator of non-scheduled activities under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) will be reduced by the lowering of the thresholds for the licensing of certain waste recovery, processing and storage facilities. The changes seem likely to be welcomed by local government.
The licence threshold reductions are an aspect of the changes to Schedule 1 of the POEO Act introduced on 1 November 2014 by the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014.
The originally proposed amendments were modified following public consultation so as to retain higher thresholds for some activities outside of the regulated area. The finally adopted thresholds are as follows.
Resource recovery – meaning the receiving of waste (other than hazardous waste, restricted solid waste, liquid waste or special waste) from off site and its processing, otherwise than for the recovery of energy
|recovery of general waste
||if the premises are in the regulated area:(a) involves having on site at any time more than 1,000 tonnes or 1,000 cubic metres of waste, or(b) involves processing more than 6,000 tonnes of waste per yearif the premises are outside the regulated area:(a) involves having on site at any time more than 2,500 tonnes or 2,500 cubic metres of waste, or
(b) involves processing more than 12,000 tonnes of waste per year
Waste processing (nonthermal treatment) – meaning, relevantly, the receiving of waste tyres from off site and their processing otherwise than by thermal treatment.
|non-thermal treatment of waste tyres
||involves having on site at any time (other than in or on a vehicle used to transport the tyres to or from the premises) more than 5 tonnes of waste tyres or 500 waste tyres, or involves processing more than 5,000 tonnes of waste tyres per year
Waste storage – meaning (subject to some exceptions),the receiving from off site and storing (including storage for transfer) of waste
||(a) …(b) more than 5 tonnes of waste tyres or 500 waste tyres is stored on the premises at any time (other than in or on a vehicle used to transport the tyres to or from the premises), or(c) more than the following amounts of waste (other than waste referred to in paragraph (a) or (b)) are stored on the premises at any time:
(i) in the case of premises in the regulated area—more than 1,000 tonnes or 1,000 cubic metres,
(ii) in the case of premises outside the regulated area—more than 2,500 tonnes or 2,500 cubic metres, or
(d) more than the following amounts of waste (other than waste referred to in paragraph (a) or (b)) is received per year from off site
(i) in the case of premises in the regulated area—6,000 tonnes
(ii) in the case of premises outside the regulated area—12,000 tonnes.
The original Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) indicated three broad objectives for change.
Firstly, the EPA, with its expertise in waste and resource recovery, and its resources for the regulation of waste facilities, was considered to be be better equipped to deliver environment protection outcomes for these facilities.
Secondly, as resource recovery, waste processing and waste storage facilities currently below the licensing thresholds do not have to meet requirements that licensed facilities must meet, this was considered to create an uneven playing field.
Thirdly, there was perceived to be a need for Government intervention to ensure that smaller waste facilities meet minimum environmental criteria to ensure protection of the environment and human health, and compliance requirements similar to the larger facilities to ensure fair competition in the market.
The supplementary RIS specifically also acknowledges that the changes will relieve pressure on local government resources. However, due to the remote and regional nature of many intermediary facilities outside the regulated area, the annual throughput licensing
thresholds for those facilities was ultimately not changed.
Transitional implementation period
The changes will be subject to a nine (9) month transitional period ending 1 August 2015 for existing operations or where a licence application is made before the end of that period, when the licence application is finally determined.