Brexit - environment waste questions & answers

Will NI/UK leaving the EU, affect my company’s ability to export/import wastes to and from the EU?

It is key that, NIEA have waste import/export shipments notification agreements in place with the relevant EU countries.  This will ensure current approvals to ship notified waste between the UK and the EU, extend beyond EU Exit day.  Assurance has been given by all EU authorities that, the Notifications would not be subject to a re-approval process, to ensure continuity.  The same applies to waste shipments transiting the EU.  When we leave the EU, the UK and NIEA will remain a party to the Basel Convention and a member of the OECD.  The UK and NIEA will continue to implement the international rules contained in these agreements.

Exports may not be able to get out through the ports.  As a result, my company may have problems with the storage of significant volumes of wastes.  What can I do?

NIEA are in the process of identifying waste operators and sites as well as local authorities that, may be exposed to greater risk in the event of a disruption to waste exports.  Sites already operating at or close to their storage limits, which are reliant upon waste exports, will be prioritised for visits, to ensure compliance and to offer advice regarding storage.  NIEA Regulatory Officers are also carrying out routine compliance work.  This includes assessing the environmental risks of any waste operation.  This may include odour and amenity issues, where additional waste might be being stored in the run up to and following EU Exit.  Regulatory Officers are providing compliance advice to operators, as appropriate.

A waste authorisation will apply in the same way as it does now, when we leave the EU.  Operators are expected to continue to meet their conditions.  This is true whether we leave the EU, with or without a Deal.  Operators will need to establish whether any actions they take to prepare for a No Deal EU Exit, are compatible with the requirements of their authorisation.  Operators should be undertaking contingency planning, if they think they might not be able to clear their site of waste, as quickly as normal.  If an operator has additional waste on site, or waste is on site for longer than expected pending export, disposal or management, the operator will need to consider the possible environmental impacts, including amenity issues.  Operators must make sure that these are properly controlled and mitigated, and the NIEA Regulator is kept informed.

Regulatory Position Statements have been drafted and shared between the UK Agencies.  The aim of these is to enable the waste industry to continue to function.  This will be achieved by, ensuring a level playing field across UK waste regulation and continued legally supported protection of the environment.  These will be shared on the DAERA website, if they are required.  Specific advice can be obtained by contacting your local waste inspector, or by contacting NIEA on Tel. No. 02890 569353.

I may lose a significant portion of my work force at short notice.  As a result, I may not be able to process wastes and my site will become overloaded.  What can I do?

Regulatory Position Statements have been drafted and shared between the UK Agencies.  The aim of these is to enable the waste industry to continue to function.  This will be achieved by ensuring a level playing field across UK waste regulation and continued legally supported protection of the environment.  These will be shared on the DAERA website if they are required.  Specific advice can be obtained by contacting your local waste inspector, or by contacting NIEA on Tel. No. 02890 569353.

I may find it difficult to comply with the current legislation, or my permit conditions.  What do I do?

Our commitment to the environment does not change with EU exit.  Those environmental protections that are currently in place, will continue to exist after EU Exit.  Existing waste permits and licences will apply in the same way when we leave the EU, as they do now.  Therefore, the NIEA expects industry to continue to meet the conditions of their authorisations.  This is true whether we leave the EU with a Deal, or without a Deal.  In the case of a No Deal EU Exit, there may be changes to border controls which have impacts on the waste supply chain.  The NIEA is monitoring this closely and will provide advice appropriate to the situation.  The protection of the environment and human health will remain foremost.  Existing consents issued by UK competent authorities, which authorise the export of waste to EU countries, will remain valid in the event of Deal or No Deal. 

DAERA recognises that, waste businesses may face challenges to their operational activity during this period.  However, it must be emphasised that, any actions you take to address these challenges, must take into account the relevant legislative requirements and permit conditions.  Failure to comply with the relevant legislation, or permit conditions, may result in enforcement action being taken against you.  Therefore, DAERA would encourage you to engage with NIEA, with regard to any concerns you may have, with regard to your ability to comply with current legislation or your permit conditions.

What do I do if I suspect waste crime? 

We are committed to the environment and to tackling waste crime.  We will continue to detect, prevent, disrupt and enforce against the highest environmental threat, risk and harm.  Anyone who suspects criminality in the waste industry, should contact the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 02890 569453, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

How would implementation of the Backstop Arrangements affect my company?

The UK Government has been clear on the need for the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU, to take account of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland. In particular, the UK Government has committed to avoiding any hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and to upholding the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and its successors in full. Following the implementation period (31 December 2020, if is agreed by the UK Parliament that the UK leaves the European Union with a Deal), until the deal on the future relationship is completed, the backstop arrangement would keep the UK inside the EU's customs union but, with Northern Ireland also conforming to some rules of the single market.  Further information is expected from the UK Government, on what this means for businesses.

How is the management and disposal of Animal By-Products (ABP) going to be regulated?

In Northern Ireland the Animal By Product Regulations (ABPR) are administered and enforced by the Veterinary Services group within DAERA.  Animal By Products (ABP) have been identified as materials which carry significant additional risks.  Work is ongoing to align all regulatory controls in relation to waste and ABP movements.  Specific advice can be obtained by contacting your local DAERA Veterinary Service Animal Health Group on Tel. No. 028 7744 2089 or 028 7744 2298.

What about sites regulated by the Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate?

If your waste contractor is indicating difficulties with disposing of your waste please contact your PPC Site Inspector on Tel. No. 028 9056 9299

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