If you have responsibility for an industrial company whose work could impact the environment in some way, then it is possible that your company will need to apply for a licence from the Environment Protection Authority. The EPA licences a variety of operators in accordance with the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. These EPA licences require the operators to meet conditions relating to the monitoring and prevention of pollution as well as improved, cleaner production and an increased commitment to recycling. The overall aim is to minimise the risks to the natural environment.
Do you need a licence?
If your company undertakes any activities which impact the environment, then you will probably need a licence. Activities which are considered to have an environmental impact are known as scheduled activities or scheduled development work. The EPA will be able to advise you if you are unsure whether a specific activity is covered by EPA licences. If you are planning to start a particular activity but have not yet obtained development consent, then you must obtain that first before you can apply to the EPA for a licence. As a part of your application for development consent, you may have to complete an Environmental Assessment or Impact Statement, and this could determine the outcome or conditions of your EPA licence.
What conditions may be imposed on licence holders?
The conditions set by the EPA will vary depending on the nature of your operations. In general, you should expect limits on the number of discharges or emissions which can occur as a result of your operations. If those limits are exceeded, then you could be asked to create an environment improvement program (EIP) which will bring your business into line with the emission limits over an agreed period of time.
How is the environmental impact calculated?
Since it is often difficult for the EPA to determine the exact amount of pollution, a particular business may cause their impact upon the environment is determined on the basis of their potential for environmental impact rather than the actual figures involved. The capacity for impact is calculated by considering what is physically capable of being produced, given the equipment available on the site and the size of the facilities. The EPA assessment will also consider the expected amount of maintenance time and the constraints which may have been set out when development consent was granted.