A1 installations: environmental permits

How to apply for standard rules and bespoke permits for A1 installations including low impact installations.

You must apply to the Environment Agency if you operate a facility which is classed as an ‘A1 installation’ - check the guidance on the regulations to find out if it is.

If your installation is classed as ‘A2’ or ‘B’, apply to your local authority.

A1 installations are facilities which carry out industrial processes like refineries, food and drink factories and intensive farming activities (for example large-scale chicken farms). They also include certain waste activities like disposing of waste to landfill, hazardous waste treatment and waste incineration.

There are 2 types of permit:

  • standard rules - a set of fixed rules for common activities
  • bespoke - tailored to your business activities

You are breaking the law if you operate without an environmental permit if you should have one.

Check if a standard rules permit is what you need

You can apply for a standard rules permit if your activity meets the relevant description and rules, but:

  • you cannot change (vary) the rules and you have no right of appeal against them
  • if you want to change your operations and so will not meet the criteria of the standard permit any more, you will have to apply to make it a bespoke permit instead
  • if there is a change in your local environment after your permit has been issued (such as a change in the definition of a groundwater source protection zone) you may need to apply to change (vary) your permit to another standard rules permit or a bespoke permit

Applying for a standard rules permit is quicker and costs less than a bespoke permit.

If you do not meet the conditions for a standard rules permit you must apply for a bespoke permit.

Standard rules permits: low impact installations

You can apply for a standard rules permit as a low impact installation if you carry out any A1 activity, except for activities related to:

  • incineration and co-incineration of waste
  • disposal of waste by landfill
  • disposal of waste other than by incineration or landfill
  • recovery of waste

Read the standard rules for:

Qualifying as a low impact installation

To qualify, your installation must have a low environmental impact because of its design, including during start-up, shutdown, or abnormal operating conditions.

Low impact installations must not:

  • release more than 50 cubic metres per day of waste water
  • have to use equipment to reduce or remove emissions before they’re released into the outside environment
  • discharge emissions to groundwater
  • produce more than 1 tonne of waste or 10kg of hazardous waste per day, averaged over a year, with not more than 20 tonnes of waste or 200kg of hazardous waste being released in any one day
  • consume energy at a rate greater than 3 megawatts (MW) or, if the installation uses a combined heat and power installation to supply any internal process heat, 10MW (through both imported electricity and by burning fuel on site)

Low impact installations must have:

  • containment measures to prevent emissions escaping to surface water, sewer or land, which are maintained at all times
  • only a low risk of causing offence due to noise and odour - you cannot be a low impact installation if noise and odour are noticeable outside the boundary of your site

Standard rules permits: composting, anaerobic digestion, or treatment of incinerator bottom ash

You can apply for a standard rules permit if you carry out any of the following activities:

How to apply for a standard rules permit

Before you apply for a standard rules permit you need to:

  • read the conditions for the relevant standard rules to make sure you can comply with them
  • read the instructions in the application form and form guidance
  • complete and submit the nature and heritage conservation screening form before you submit your application - so the Environment Agency can check if any conservation sites, protected species or habitats could be affected by your activity
  • read the generic risk assessment for your activity so you understand the potential risks and make sure you manage them effectively (you can find this with the relevant standard rules document)
  • check you meet the legal operator and competence requirements
  • check how to control and monitor your emissions - you do not need to submit any emissions information as part of a standard rules permit application

You also need to develop a management system (a set of procedures that identifies and minimises the risks of pollution).

Standard rules permits: application forms

Download and fill in these forms:

Send your completed forms and application fee by email to or post them to:

Permitting and Support Centre
Environmental Permitting Team
Quadrant 2
99 Parkway Avenue
Parkway Business Park
S9 4WF

Find out about:

Apply for a bespoke permit

You must apply for a bespoke permit if your activity does not fit the conditions of a standard rules permit. You can apply for a bespoke permit as a low impact installation if you carry out an A1 activity and meet the criteria for a low impact installation.

Before you apply you must do all of the following:

Bespoke permits: application forms

Download and fill in these forms:

Send all the following with your application forms:

  • the summary of your management system
  • your risk assessment
  • any other supporting documents mentioned in the form guidance, such as site maps and plans
  • your fee

Email your completed forms and other documents to or post them to:

Permitting and Support Centre
Environmental Permitting Team
Quadrant 2
99 Parkway Avenue
Parkway Business Park
S9 4WF

Get help with your application

The Environment Agency offers basic pre-application advice to help you complete your application. This basic advice is free because the cost of providing it is included in the application charge.

For standard rules and bespoke permits the basic service covers the following advice (where applicable):

  • which standard rules set is relevant for your activities
  • helping you check that your activity meets the criteria for a standard rules permit
  • carrying out nature and heritage conservation screening
  • which applications forms and guidance to use
  • information about any administrative tasks the Environment Agency will need to do

For bespoke permits, the basic service also includes advice about risk assessments you may need to do to accompany your application.

If you need more in depth advice about your application the Environment Agency offers an enhanced pre-application advice service. The enhanced service costs £100 an hour plus VAT. The enhanced service can include face to face meetings and advice on:

  • complex modelling
  • preparing risk assessments
  • parallel tracking complex permits with planning applications
  • specific substances assessments
  • monitoring requirements (including baseline)

The Environment Agency will give you a written estimate before they start work. This will include:

  • a breakdown of the work they will carry out with costs
  • when these costs will be charged

Getting pre-application advice will help you submit a good quality application that can be processed (determined) smoothly and quickly. Complete the pre-application advice form if you want to request either basic (free), or enhanced (chargeable) pre-application advice.

If you cannot access the form please contact the Environment Agency and they will send you a paper copy to complete and return.

Keeping sensitive information confidential

When the Environment Agency consults on your permit application they will let people see the information in your application.

You can ask the Environment Agency not to make public any information that’s commercially sensitive for your business (such as financial information). You can do this by including a letter with your application that gives your reasons why you do not want this information made public.

The Environment Agency will email or write to you within 20 days if they agree to your request. They will let you know if they need more time to decide.

If they do not agree to your request they will tell you how to:

  • appeal against their decision
  • withdraw your application

Fees and charges

You must pay a fee to apply for a permit.

You must send your fee with your application. If your application is successful, the Environment Agency will charge you an annual ‘subsistence’ fee while you have a permit. This fee depends on your activity and the type of permit you have.

Find out more about fees and charges. You can contact the Environment Agency for help to work out your fee.

After you apply

The Environment Agency may reject your application if, for example:

  • you have not used the right forms
  • you have forgotten to include the fee or sent the wrong fee
  • you have not provided important information

Once the Environment Agency has the information they need to start assessing your application, they will contact you and tell you that your application is ‘duly made’. This means they are starting the assessment process. They may still request more information if they need it to complete the assessment.

Consultations on your permit application

The Environment Agency will publish online a notice of your application and instructions for how other people can comment on it and see the application documents on the public register.

Members of the public and anyone interested in the application have 20 working days to comment.

The Environment Agency may also consult other public bodies, for example local authorities, Public Health England, water companies and Natural England.

If the Environment Agency considers your application to be of high public interest, they may:

  • take longer to give you a decision
  • carry out an extra consultation on the draft decision
  • advertise the application more widely

The Environment Agency’s public participation statement explains how and why they consult on permit applications.

Decisions about your permit

The Environment Agency will write to you to tell you their decision. They usually make decisions on applications within:

  • 4 months if you are applying for a new permit
  • 3 months if you want to change a permit or cancel it
  • 2 months if you want to transfer a permit

They will tell you if your application will take longer.

You can appeal if the Environment Agency refuses your application.

You can also appeal if you applied for a bespoke permit and you’re not happy with the conditions

The decision letter will explain how you can appeal.

The Environment Agency will publish the decision on its public register.

When you get a permit

Find out how the Environment Agency will regulate you when you start operating.

Change, transfer or cancel your permit

When you have got a permit you can:

  • change (vary) the details on it
  • transfer it to someone else
  • cancel (surrender) it

Find out how to change, transfer or cancel your permit.

Contact the Environment Agency

Contact the Environment Agency if:

General enquiries

National Customer Contact Centre
PO Box 544
S60 1BY

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Published 1 February 2016
Last updated 5 April 2018 + show all updates
  1. Changed link to the Groundwater Source Protection Zones to new page
  2. Added information about the pre-application advice service you can use if you need help with your permit application.
  3. First published.