Under the rules of the Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD) that came into force at the end of 2018, combustion plants and generators rated at greater than 1MWth and less than 50MWth capacity (based on the fuel input) must have an environmental permit to operate.
The scheme is aimed at improving air quality by controlling the emission of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and dust pollutants, so reducing the potential risks to health and the environment.
Getting a permit
Permits are issued by the Environment Agency and it takes about 12 weeks from application to get the draft permit back from them for review.
The focus on emissions and environmental impact means that the application process takes into account everything in your plant’s local area. If you’re lucky and you’re in a fairly isolated rural area with little of environmental concern and low hours of operation, then your permit application could fall under the ‘Standard Rule’ category and be simple, straightforward and low cost.
Factors that could push you into a bespoke permit include the proximity of residential areas or other “receptors” and the nature of your local landscape. For example, being located in or close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest or other types of conservation area. This may require things like air dispersion modelling or a habitat screen assessment to quantify your impact on the local environment. Bespoke permits are more complex, require more detail and involve higher application costs.
Once you’ve got your permit you then need to ensure you comply with its terms.
Ongoing compliance involves carrying out any necessary testing within 4 months of the issue date to prove your emissions are within the limit specified in your permit and have an environmental management system in place to record ongoing testing and everything of relevance that happens on your site.
Are there any exceptions?
If you are operating plant commissioned before the regulations came into force, you may have more time to get your permit in place as the date by which a permit is required for existing ‘specified generators’ varies according to plant type, size and age.
The most recent permit deadline was 1 October 2019 for a plant that:
- Has greater than 5MWth up to 50MWth capacity
- Started operating before 1 December 2016 or has a Capacity Market agreement older than 2024/15 and
- Has NOx emissions above 500mg/Nm3 (STP, 15% O2) and operates for more than 50 hours a year
Those with lower NOx emissions have until 1 January 2025 to get their permit and those in the 1MWth to 5MWth range until 1 January 2030.
Getting help with MCPD
Over the last 12 months we’ve gained a lot of experience guiding farmers and growers through the complexity of the MCPD permitting process and can help you understand the scheme, make your initial permit application and manage your ongoing compliance – just call the team on 024 7669 6512.