Regulatory decisions for waste management

Signing waste documentation

If you can't include written signatures on all documents we will accept electronic signatures instead.

This includes trans-frontier shipment documents and waste transfer notes.

More information can be found in the regulatory decision below.

Regulatory decision

This position applies as a temporary emergency contingency measure only. It is subject to review.

This regulatory decision applies to the record keeping requirements for transfers of non-hazardous and consignment of hazardous waste. It has been created due to concerns with spreading Coronavirus.

Waste handlers usually need to provide a signature on the documentation recording transfers and consignments to prove confirmation of the parties involved.

However, if you follow the conditions in this regulatory decision you can complete the transfer or consignment without providing signatures of the parties involved.

Conditions you must comply with

We will not require a waste holder to sign documentation where the following conditions are met. You must:

  • Record all the other information required in the Waste Transfer Note/Consignment Note as usual, including the names of the persons involved in the transaction.
  • Record any instances where the signature was refused.
  • Follow up instances of signature refusal by obtaining written confirmation via letter or e-mail from the customer, including information on each individual transfer or consignment, and date.
  • Hazardous waste returns should be sent to producers to ensure receipt at the correct site.

You must make sure that your activity does not endanger human health or the environment. You must not:

  • cause a risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals
  • cause a nuisance through noise or odours
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest

Enforcement

A regulatory decision means that Natural Resources Wales will not normally take enforcement action against you provided:

  • your activity meets the description set out in this regulatory decision
  • you comply with the conditions set out in this regulatory decision
  • your activity does not, and is not likely to, cause environmental pollution or harm human health

Review

This regulatory decision will be valid until 31 March 2021.

Technical competence

We recognise that many elements of maintaining technical competence will have been impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic.

We have adapted our regulatory approach to acknowledge the issues in the areas of:

  • site attendance
  • gaining Environmental Permitting Officer Certificate (EPOC);
  • continued technical Competence
  • provision of evidence for CMS under EU Skills.

More detail is available in our regulatory decision below.

Regulatory decision

Site Attendance

We understand that many operators will be concerned about how they can satisfy attendance requirements whilst sites are running on reduced staffing levels and staff may well be ill or self-isolating. We will be pragmatic in our approach.

  • There is still a requirement to have a technically competent person as a requirement of the permit.
  • The Technical Competence Manager attendance hours are within the relevant guidance and they are an indication that site activities are in being overseen by a technically competent manager.

Operators should:

  • Review their training and capability structure to ensure roles, responsibilities and accident plans are in place and reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
  • Ensure that remote systems are operational. Alarm systems where required, are fully operational.
  • Have a responsive duty roster to respond to incidents.
  • Notify us where the site cannot be safely monitored.
  • Where the TCM is self-isolating and not sick, every effort should be made to attempt “virtual” support to the site through teleconferencing or video links. This input, duration and method of communication must be recorded in the site diary.
  • Where the TCM is unable to support communications in self-isolation or is sick every effort should be made to identify a suitable replacement TCM. Record if their current nominated TCM(s) are self-isolating/sick in the site diary.
  • Where the TCM is self-isolating or sick (and cannot attend the site) and no TCM cover available. The operator should be able and capable of operating the plant or site safely through both their EMS and operations training using other competent staff for the short time the TCM is unavailable.

Where there has been an inability to make alternative arrangements and a breach of the permit condition occurs then NRW will record the breach on a CAR report and suspend the score.

The following will only apply to an operator who currently complies with the primary qualification and continued competence requirements prior to 16th March 2020.

Continued Technical Competence

In view of Pearson VUE test centres now being closed, Continuing Competence tests are not currently available and until the current Government’s advice changes, we will not regard the failure to complete a continuing competence assessment that became due after 16 March 2020 as being a failure to comply with the CIWM/WAMITAB Operator Competence scheme.

There will be a requirement to demonstrate you have registered with WAMITAB to undertake this test. If this applies to you or your TCM, please contact both NRW and WAMITAB as soon as possible to let us know. WAMITAB are keeping a log of those who have contacted them. NRW will be checking this list.

Where an application for a permit is made and continued competence was due after 16 March, we won’t take that as a failure to prove technical competence and we will determine the application as per normal.

There will be a requirement to demonstrate you have registered with WAMITAB to undertake this test and already have the relevant primary qualifications that align with the type of facility you are making an application for.

It is expected that your test is re-booked as soon as the centres re-open.

Where a permit already exists and obtaining continued competence is not possible. The details will be noted on a compliance assessment report, scored but that score held in suspension.

There is the risk to the operator who fails to achieve continued competence following lifting of restrictions on gaining qualification that that operator will be in breach of the permit or this may delay permit issue. In this instance the operator will be expected to provide replacement TCM cover to remain compliant. 

Environmental Permitting Operator Certificate (EPOC)

Where an operator is relying on the EPOC for permit application or for lower tier risk sites (per WAMITAB tiers). The inability to provide the EPOC for qualification for new permit application or low tier risk sites will not prevent permit application processing.

NRW will continue to process permit applications without the EPOCs providing the applicant is registered with an intent to complete the EPOC.

There will a requirement to demonstrate that you have registered with the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and that you provide this proof on a permit application. NRW will check validity with CIWM.

Operator will have to endeavour to resolve this as soon as possible following availability of EPOC Courses.

There is the risk to the applicant that if a permit is issued and the applicant fails to achieve the EPOC qualification following lifting of restrictions that that operator will be in breach of the permit. 

Energy & Utility Skills

Due to the current situation, on site visits for surveillance and auditing purposes may not be possible under the Energy and Utility (EU) Skills scheme. It is usually audited and certificated by accredited Certification Bodies and this includes regular surveillance audits by them to ensure the Competence Management System (CMS) remains effective.

Where possible, NRW will expect remote auditing for the CMS. All Operators will, therefore, be able to undertake a surveillance schedule which continues to demonstrate an effective CMS and compliance with the technical competence requirements.

Where remote surveillance and auditing is in place NRW expect the Operator to make a record of this and that this is available for inspection.

A CMS recognises that all employees on a site contribute to the overall performance of the site and employees’ competence is maintained in real time, so they remain current for their roles. Where this is not possible you are required to inform Natural Resources Wales to assess if there is a non-compliance. If there is this will be recorded on a CAR form and the score held in suspension.

Please note: The CMS does not require a named technically competent manager per site, however, a management representative should be available to deal with any issues that may have an impact on compliance with the conditions of an environmental permit.

There is also no requirement to log site attendance time as it is a holistic approach and recognises that all employees on a site contribute to the overall performance of the site.

Review

This regulatory decision will be valid until valid until 31 October 2020.

Restarting private sewage treatment works

Careful steps need to taken before restarting a sewage treatment plant after a period of low effluent flows or shutdown.

During normal operation, a regular flow of sewage effluent keeps microorganisms alive in the biological process. The sewage treatment plant relies on the biological process to feed on and remove pollutants, treating sewage effluent to a sufficient quality prior to discharging to surface or groundwater.

Restarting the plant following the COVID-19 shutdown may overload the microorganisms. This could lead to poor quality effluent polluting the receiving environment unless careful steps are taken by the operator to prime the biological process.

 

Guidance

 

In Wales, the discharge of sewage effluent to ground or surface waters is regulated under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) 2016. The discharge must meet the standards set out in an environmental permit or meet the terms of an exemption.

Operators who discharge poor quality effluent risk being in breach of their environmental permit or exemption if the discharge causes pollution of surface water or groundwater. As businesses open, the increased flows or sudden start of the treatment plant is very likely to result in poor quality effluent unless steps are taken by operators to ensure the plant can operate effectively.

Operators who are used to seasonal variations in flow and loads such as campsites, holiday villages and tourist attractions should follow their usual procedures for increasing flows to their treatment plants whilst maintain compliance with their environmental permits.

Operators who are not used to seasonal variations of low or no flows of sewage should seek expert technical advice for recommissioning their treatment plant. This may be done by contacting:

  • your usual sewage treatment plant maintenance contractor
  • the manufacturer or installer of the treatment plant
  • or a professional Sewage treatment plant maintenance engineer

As part of start up the package plant may require re-seeding with sludge from another plant. Operators will need to register a U6 waste exemption to bring in this sludge from another sewage works.

British Water have produced guidance for restarting package sewage treatment plants and a list of suitable maintenance engineers can be found on their website.

The treatment system may also have pre-treatment in the form of fat, oil and grease traps. The operator must ensure these are ready for use again when the treatment plant is operational or you may risk damaging the plant. Cleaning products should be used sparingly as the biological process in the treatment plant will be sensitive to excessive levels of chemicals.

Once a treatment plant has been restarted or flows have increased the operator must continue to monitor that it operates correctly and does not cause pollution.

If there are concerns that pollution is occurring the operator should notify their regulatory contact or call our 24-hour incident hotline.

Disposing of waste beverages

Waste beverages must not be poured down drains that lead to private sewage treatment plants or directly to surface or groundwaters because it can cause pollution.

Waste beverages should only be removed by licensed waste carriers and only disposed of at suitably permitted waste facilities. Contact the British Beer and Pub Association for advice or refer to the waste hierarchy.

Waste carrier copy cards

Due to office closures we are unable to provide waste carrier copy cards at this time.

Your reference number can be used as proof of your registration.

Waste storage limits

Following a review this regulatory decision is no longer applicable

Producer packaging obligations

Following a review this regulatory decision is no longer applicable