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The controversial plans to expand fracking in England are facing a fresh confrontation with the local councils. Greater Manchester combined authority, one of the biggest in the country which comprises 10 local authorities, pushed forward a decision to stop companies from extracting underground shale gas in the region.

The Greater Manchester combined authority put in place certain planning measures to create a "presumption" against fracking in the area, according to mayor Andy Burnham. The decision comes as part of the effort to become carbon neutral by 2038.

Several other authorities, including Leeds, Wakefield, Hull and York have expressed opposition to fracking, with London finalising a similar scheme as Manchester. This could lead to a showdown with the central Government and significantly weaken their plans.

The decision of the Greater Manchester combined authority echoes decisions made by the devolved Governments in Scotland and Wales, where the Scottish Government banned fracking after public consultation which found overwhelming public opposition and little economic justification, and the Welsh Government have also promised to block any fracking applications.

Burnham said that "There has never been a legal case involving a spatial framework of this kind. We would be empowering our own communities to take on a Government policy which at times seems to impose its will on local communities".

New Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations SI 2018/110 are now in force which introduce permitting requirements for medium combustion plants (MCPs) and specified generators.

Permits are now required for:

  • all new MCPs purchased from 20 December 2018; and
  • Tranche B specified generators.

There will be a phased in approach for permits existing equipment based on the rated thermal output of the equipment, and for specified generators, dependent on the rated thermal input, nitrogen oxide emissions and operational time limits of the equipment.

The amendments also include emission limits which MCPs operational for more than 500 hours annually must comply with.

Permitting requirements for medium combustion plants

A medium combustion plant (MCP) means a combustion plant with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 1 megawatt but less than 50 megawatts.

Permits will be required for:

  • all new MCPs from 20 December 2018;
  • existing MCPs with a rated thermal input greater than 5 megawatts, from 1 January 2024;
  • existing MCPs with a rated thermal input of less than or equal to 5 megawatts, from 1 January 2029.

MCPs which operate for more than 500 hours per year (based on a five year rolling average), must comply with the specified emission limit values. These limits specify values for emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust. These emission limit values will apply from:

  • 20 December 2018, for all new MCPs;
  • 1 January 2025, for existing MCPs with a rated thermal input greater than 5 megawatts;
  • 1 January 2030, for existing MCPs with a rated thermal input of less than or equal to 5 megawatts.

Where an existing MCP operates for no more than 1,000 hours per year (based on a five year rolling average), in order to:

  • provide backup power production in islands connected to an electricity transmission system or distribution system, in the event of an interruption of the main power supply to an island; or
  • produce heat in cases of exceptionally cold weather events,

the MCP is not required to comply with the specified emission limit values, provided that the operator has signed a declaration stating such.

Permitting requirements for specified generators

Specified generators include:

  • a generator, other than an excluded generator, with a rated thermal input:
    • more than or equal to 1 megawatt and less than 50 megawatts, or
    • in the case of a generator used to meet a capacity agreement or an agreement to provide balancing services, less than 50 megawatts;
  • where two or more generators are operated on the same site, by the same operator and for the same purpose, those generators together, provided that the rated thermal input of those generators together is less than 50 megawatts;
  • where two or more generators, other than excluded generators are operated:
    • on the same site, by the same operator and for the same purpose, and
    • together have a rated thermal input more than or equal to 1 megawatt and less than 50 megawatts, even if one or more of the generators has a rated thermal input of less than 1 megawatt,

those generators together.

Permits will be required for specified generators from: 

  • 1 January 2019, in the case of a Tranche B generator;
  • 1 October 2019, in the case of aTranche A generator with a rated thermal input greater than 5 megawatts which:
    • has an emission of nitrogen oxides of equal to or greater than 500mg/Nm3, and
    • operates for more than 50 hours per year;
  • 1 January 2025, in the case of aTranche A generator with a rated thermal input greater than 5 megawatts which:
    • has an emission of nitrogen oxides of less than 500mg/Nm3, or
    • operates for less than or equal to 50 hours per year;
  • 1 January 2030, in the case of a Tranche A generator with a rated thermal input equal to or less than 5 megawatts.

There are exemptions from the requirement for an environmental permit for specified generators:

  • used at a site which it is not reasonably practicable to connect to the distribution system;
  • a back-up generator in respect of which the operator has demonstrated a genuine need to carry out routine testing for more than 50 hours per year.

For more information see the:

  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2016/1154.

New Pollution Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2018/33 came into force on 20 March 2018 and introduce permitting requirements for medium combustion plants (MCPs) and specified generators.

Permits are now required for:

  • all new MCPs purchased from 20 December 2018; and
  • new generators from 1 January 2019.

There will be a phased in approach for permits existing equipment based on the rated thermal output of the equipment, and for specified generators, dependent on the rated thermal input, nitrogen oxide emissions and operational time limits of the equipment.

The amendments also include emission limits which MCPs operational for more than 500 hours annually must comply with.

Permitting requirements for medium combustion plants

A medium combustion plant (MCP) means a combustion plant with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 1 megawatt but less than 50 megawatts.

Permits or registration will be required for:

  • all new MCPs from 20 December 2018;
  • existing MCPs with a rated thermal input greater than 5 megawatts, from 1 January 2024;
  • existing MCPs with a rated thermal input of less than or equal to 5 megawatts, from 1 January 2029.

MCPs which operate for more than 500 hours per year (based on a five year rolling average), must comply with the specified emission limit values. These limits specify values for emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust. These emission limit values will apply from:

  • 20 December 2018, for all new MCPs;
  • 1 January 2025, for existing MCPs with a rated thermal input greater than 5 megawatts;
  • 1 January 2030, for existing MCPs with a rated thermal input of less than or equal to 5 megawatts.

Where an existing MCP operates for no more than 1,000 hours per year (based on a five year rolling average), in order to provide backup power production in islands connected to an electricity transmission system or distribution system, in the event of an interruption of the main power supply to an island, the MCP is not required to comply with the specified emission limit values, provided that the operator has signed a declaration stating such. However where such plant is firing solid fuels an emission limit value for dust of 200mg/Nm3 applies.

Permitting requirements for specified generators

Specified generators include:

  • a generator, other than an excluded generator, with a rated thermal input:
    • more than or equal to 1 megawatt and less than 50 megawatts, or
    • in the case of a generator used to meet a capacity agreement or an agreement to provide balancing services, less than 50 megawatts; or
  • where two or more generators are operated on the same site, by the same operator and for the same purpose, those generators together, provided that the rated thermal input of those generators together is less than 50 megawatts;
  • where two or more generators, other than excluded generators are operated:
    • on the same site, by the same operator and for the same purpose, and
    • together have a rated thermal input more than or equal to 1 megawatt and less than 50 megawatts, even if one or more of the generators has a rated thermal input of less than 1 megawatt,
    those generators together.

Permits will be required for specified generators from: 

  • 1 January 2019, in the case of a new generator;
  • 1 October 2019, in the case of an existing generator with a rated thermal input greater than 5 megawatts and less than 50 megawatts which:
    • has an emission of nitrogen oxides of equal to or greater than 500mg/ Nm3, and
    • operates for more than 50 hours per year;
  • 1 January 2025, in the case of an existing generator with a rated thermal input greater than 5 megawatts and less than 50 megawatts which:
    • has an emission of nitrogen oxides of less than 500mg/ Nm3, or
    • operates for less than or equal to 50 hours per year;
  • 1 January 2030, in the case of an existing generator with a rated thermal input equal to or less than 5 megawatts.

There are exemptions from the requirement for an environmental permit for specified generators:

  • used at a site to which it is not reasonably practicable to supply mains power;
  • a back-up generator in respect of which, in the opinion of the regulator, the operator has demonstrated a genuine need to carry out routine testing for more than 50 hours per year.

For more information see the:

  • Pollution Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2013/160.

New Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2017/446 came into force on 19 December 2017 and introduce permitting requirements for medium combustion plants (MCPs).

Permits are now required for all new MCPs purchased from 20 December 2018 with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 1 megawatt and less than or equal to 20 megawatts, and there will be a phased in approach for permits for existing equipment based on the rated thermal output of the equipment. The amendments also include emission limits which MCPs must comply with.

Permitting requirements for medium combustion plants

A medium combustion plant (MCP) means a combustion plant with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 1 megawatt but less than 50 megawatts.

Permits or registration will be required for:

  • new MCPs with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 1 megawatt and less than or equal to 20 megawatts, from 20 December 2018;
  • existing MCPs with a rated thermal input greater than 5 megawatts, from 1 January 2024;
  • existing MCPs with a rated thermal input of less than or equal to 5 megawatts, from 1 January 2029.

 An application for a permit to operate an existing MCP must be received by SEPA by:

  • 30 June 2023, where the rated thermal input of the plant is greater than 5 megawatts and less than or equal to 20 megawatts;
  • 30 June 2028, where the rated thermal input of the plant is less than or equal to 5 megawatts.

From:

  • 1 January 2025, MCPs with a rated thermal input greater than 5 megawatts;
  • 1 January 2030, MCPs with a rated thermal input less than or equal to 5 megawatts,

must not exceed the emission limit values specified in relation to sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust, subject to specified exceptions.

An existing MCP is exempt from these requirements if either the plant does not operate more than:

  • 500 hours per year (calculated as a rolling average over a period of 5 years); or
  • 1000 hours per year (calculated as a rolling average over a period of 5 years) and the plant is operated in case of emergency or extraordinary circumstances for:
    • backup power production in connected islands in the event of an interruption of the main power supply to an island, or
    • heat production in cases of exceptionally cold weather events.

For more information see the:

  • Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2012/360.

The UK installed a record-breaking amount of new offshore wind capacity during 2018, with growth in the sector set to attract billions in investment and create thousands of jobs.

The findings from RenewableUK shows that more than 2,121 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity went operational over last year, nearly double the previous record of 1,154 MW installed in 2012.

This would generate enough energy to power 2.3 million homes annually, with eight offshore wind farms officially opened in UK waters, including the worlds largest and first ever floating wind farm.

RenewableUK said that offshore wind could generate more than a third of the UK's energy needs by 2030, with approximately 20 gigawatts (GW) up and running, which could attract as much as £48 billion in investment and create around 27,000 jobs.

The association is hoping offshore wind will be able to offer the UK even more in the Offshore Wind Sector Deal.

The near-doubling of new capacity installed in the UK this year was achieved with just 18% more turbines than were installed in 2012, which RenewableUK said underlines the "impressive growth" in turbine power.

Since 2012, the average capacity of an offshore turbine has grown over 50% from 3.7 MW to 5.8 MW last year.

This comes after GE Renewable Energy unveiled plans to develop the world's largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine, generating enough power for up to 16,000 European households every year.

The Haliade-X will produce 45% more energy than any other offshore turbine available, and feature a 220-meter rotor with blades longer than the size of a professional football field.

It will be 260 metres above the sea and include a 12 MW direct drive generator producing 67 GWh annually.

CEO of GE Renewable Energy, Jérôme Pécresse said "it took more than 20 years to install the first 17 GW of offshore wind. Today, the renewables industry forecasts it will install more than 90 GW over the next 12 years".

"The Haliade-X shows GE's commitment to the offshore wind segment and will set a new benchmark for cost of electricity, thus driving more offshore growth".

The appeal sought in Boots UK Ltd v Severn Trent Water Ltd has been dismissed.

The manufacturer sought the appeal against a judgement that the water and sewerage undertaker did not owe them alleged overpaid trade effluent charges.

The question of the appeal was whether a mixed liquid comprising of surface water and effluent produced in the course of a trade or industry was "trade effluent" within the meaning of the Water Industry Act 1991 and liable to charges.

Boots UK Ltd manufacturing processes gave rise to trade effluent which was discharged into private sewers and was metered for the purpose of calculating trade effluent charges. Before the effluent reached the meter it was mixed with surface water which had not been discharged through designated surface water outlets. The mixture was discharged into a public foul water sewer. Severn Trent Water Ltd charged for trade effluent to the mixed liquid passing through the meter and charged for the drainage of surface water by rateable value or area.

Boots UK Ltd argued that they should only be charged for the trade effluent, not the mixed liquid which contained surface water and sought reimbursement. Severn Trent Water Ltd argued that the entirety of the mixed liquid was trade effluent within the meaning of the Water Industry Act 1991 and the original judge agreed.

At appeal the Judge concluded he agreed with the original Judge, that the mixed liquid of surface water and trade effluent was still trade effluent within the meaning of the Water Industry Act 1991, and Boots UK Ltd was liable to charges.

He commented "it seems to me that there is an entirely rational purpose for treating a mixed liquid as falling with the definition of trade effluent. The essential point is that the mixture of trade effluent and surface water is still contaminated water; and will need to be treated in a different way from surface water".

The appeal was dismissed.


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