31 May 2021


Well that very much depends….. which side of the road are you on!


As an Environmental Consultant I get asked this question regularly and the only way I can answer it is to ask lots of questions….. and I mean lots of questions. I know that my clients find this a frustrating process, when they just want initial ballpark figures for budgeting, and I am unable to give them this without getting lots of information from them first.

You may think it’s pretty straight forward, after all the Environment Agency (EA) provide a Table of Fees and Charges which lists fees according to the type of activity you want to carry out. Perhaps an example would demonstrate the issues that are encountered.

I get an enquiry about obtaining a permit for a new construction / demolition recycling facility. Now this could be very straight forward or not! In this example the site is to be located on industrial land on the outskirts of a major city. Ideally, this operator would obtain a permit with the Standard Rules Set 2010 No.12. He could even do an online application himself, therefore avoiding consultant fees for preparing the permit application. However, on closer inspection of the location I find that it is located within an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). This means that the site cannot have the Standard Rules permit, so a bespoke permit application will have to be made. The bespoke permit not only costs more to apply for but is also highly likely to require further assessments as part of the application. The table below shows how the comparison of costs stacks up!

Item Std Rules Permit 2010 no.12 Bespoke Permit
Application Fee £2,641 £7,930
Dust Management Plan Not required £1,241
Noise Management Plan Not required £1,241
Consultancy Fees Not required £6,000 to £12,000k*
Total £2,641 £16,412 to £22,412
  • *Ball park estimate and dependent on the need for noise monitoring/assessment
  • In this case, all the additional cost and assessment is required only due to the fact that the site is located within AQMA.

More complex waste operations, than the example above, have a greater number of potential additional costs which make it even harder to provide accurate cost estimates.

Once you have paid your fees and the EA have your application there is still the potential for further costs. Requests for further information and assessments from the EA while they determine your application are becoming more common.

I am generally an optimist, however when providing cost estimates for Environmental Permits I have to consider the worst case scenarios and ensure my clients understand what costs I can be certain of and those that may escalate.

If you are considering obtaining a new Environmental Permit or making changes to an existing permit don’t just ask the question ‘how much will it cost’ but also seek to understand the potential for costs to escalate.

We are specialist consultants in obtaining Environmental Permits for the waste industry. We also provide help and guidance on all aspects of permit compliance. Do get in touch if you need any help or advice.