Agency unveils new permits for smaller metal recyclers

The Environment Agency is to issue two new standard rules permits which include fire prevention plans for small-scale operators starting in the spring this year.

Small scale cable granulation will be included in the new permit arrangements (picture: Shutterstock)

The permits are intended for small-scale operators either to store and treat up to 5,000 tonnes of ferrous and non-ferrous metals each year or to operate a vehicle storage, depollution, and dismantling facility for up to 10 end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) per week.

In 2018, Defra and the Welsh Government publicly consulted on reducing crime at sites handling waste and introducing fixed penalties for waste duty of care (see letsrecycle.com story).

This consultation proposed making substantial changes to the waste exemptions regime, including changes to exemptions T9 (recovering scrap metal) and U16 (using depolluted end-of-life vehicles for parts).

At the launch of a separate consultation on the permits last year, the Agency said: “We believe these new standard rules could help operators if they need to change from these exemptions into environmental permitting.”

The consultation heard from industry that small-scale cable granulation is often carried out at the small sites and the Agency said it has included non-hazardous cable in the list of waste types and granulation in the permitted activities.


The Environment Agency says it shared pre-consultation draft versions of the permits with “key stakeholders” during the summer of 2021.

It then ran a consultation on the permits from 28 June 2021 to 20 September 2021, before publishing the responses, which were almost entirely supportive of the proposals, on 17 February.

Of a total of six responses received by the Agency, two were from trade associations, two from operators of waste management facilities, and one each from an individual and a business.

We are pleased to see that other respondents were typically aligned with the views of BMRA

– Antonia Grey, British Metals Recycling Association

Antonia Grey, head of policy and public affairs at the British Metals Recycling Association, told letsrecycle.com: “We are pleased to see that other respondents were typically aligned with the views of BMRA and that the EA has taken on-board the comments we raised throughout the consultation exercise.”


The Environment Agency says the new standard rules sets do not replace any others currently in place.

The first of the permits will allow sites operate a metal recycling facility that accepts no more than 5,000 tonnes of specified ferrous and non-ferrous wastes per year. The combined storage limit of wastes stored on the site at any one time is limited to 100 tonnes.

Operators will be able to sort, separate, grade, manual feed, cut using hand-held equipment only, shear, bale, and compact material in line with a fire prevention plan.

The second permit will allow operators to run a vehicle storage, depollution, and dismantling facility that stores no more than 10 end-of-life vehicles at any one time and accepts less than 750 tonnes of ELVs a year.

Operators will be able to depollute ELVs and sort, separate, grade or cut waste into different components for recovery in line with a fire prevention plan.

Related link
Standard rules permit consultation no 24: summary of consultation responses

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