UK AD plant costs could double with Environment Agency changes
The UK’s Environment Agency has closed the consultation on its proposed Strategic Review of Charges, a series of revisions which could have significant consequences for the country’s anaerobic digestion industry according to the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA).
“We are significantly simplifying the way customers work out their charges for regimes within the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulation 2016 (EPR), including waste, water discharges and installations. Our current system is very complicated and done in a different way for different regulatory regimes,” states the EA document on the consultation.
“In addition, to ensure that we have a mechanism to recover the cost of activities over and above expected levels we have proposed to enable charging for this work on a time and materials basis. We also propose that for customers wishing to receive additional services for advice and guidance we will also charge them on a time and materials basis. We are making sure everyone pays for the service they receive and this will cause some changes in costs for some businesses,” the document continues.
The new charge proposals are expected to take effect from April 2018. Among other things, they include a £2,641 (€3,000) permit application charge for AD facilities.
Unjustified price hikes
ADBA, the trade body for AD in the UK, has labelled the proposals as “unjustified”. The Association observes that the proposed changes equate to significant increases in the majority of charges associated with environmental permitting (including application fees and ongoing annual subsistence fees). This, ADBA claims in a statement, “will have financial implications for all new and existing AD operators who operate under environmental permits in England.”
Indeed, according to ADBA, it is thought the changes will double the existing charges in some cases.
“[The] Charges are extremely steep and their implementation date of April 2018 will be very challenging for AD operators to meet. As a matter of priority, we urge the EA to consider extending this implementation date, or, as minimum, adopt a phased approach, allowing both themselves and the industry to be fully prepared for any changes,” said Charlotte Morton, ADBA’s chief executive.
“AD operators are already under increased financial pressure and even small cost increases will result in greater strain and could have a detrimental impact. Should the proposals lead to reduced enthusiasm in investing in the industry or limit operators’ ability to invest in their operations, this could be detrimental to the environment and to AD’s ability to meet vital policy goals.”
EA is currently analysing responses to the consultation, and will be publishing its response “in due course.”