Guidance

Medium combustion plant and specified generators: environmental permits

If you operate a medium combustion plant (MCP) or a generator, find out if you need to meet MCP and/or specified generator regulations.

The environmental permitting regulations (EPR) include new requirements for:

  • medium combustion plants
  • specified generators

You will need to apply for a MCP and/or specified generator environmental permit if the regulations apply to your MCP or generator.

Regulators

This guidance applies to operators in England and Wales. The regulators are:

  • Environment Agency for England
  • Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for Wales

Air quality

MCP and specified generator environmental permits protect air only.

The permits can control emissions of these pollutants to air:

  • sulphur dioxide
  • nitrogen oxides
  • dust

Improving air quality will reduce the potential risks to human health and the environment.

The permits are standalone unless the MCP or generator is part of:

Where you have an existing environmental permit under the IED or a Part B local authority permit you may need to vary your permit to include MCP or specified generator requirements.

The regulations set the emission controls your MCP or generator must meet. The emission limits are conditions of the permit.

Best available techniques (BAT) do not apply to the standalone environmental permits.

Medium combustion plants

The MCP regulations apply to MCP with a capacity more than or equal to 1 megawatt thermal (MWth) and less than 50MWth burning any fuel.

MCPs are classed as new or existing.

Read the guidance Medium combustion plant: when you need a permit to check:

  • if your static or mobile MCP requires a MCP environmental permit – it may be excluded from meeting the regulations
  • the deadline for getting the permit – if it’s classed as new you must get your permit immediately

If your MCP:

  • does not generate electricity then only the MCP regulations apply
  • does generate electricity then both the MCP and specified generator regulations may apply

Generators

A generator is a combustion plant that generates electricity.

The specified generator regulations apply to generators with a capacity up to 50MWth burning any fuel.

Generators are classed as Tranche A or Tranche B.

Read the guidance Specified generator: when you need a permit to check:

  • if your static or mobile generator or a number of generators on your site requires a specified generator environmental permit – some specified generators are excluded from meeting the regulations

  • the deadline for getting the permit – if it’s classed as a Tranche B specified generator you must get your environmental permit immediately

When both MCP and specified generator regulations apply to your generator

The MCP and specified generator regulations have different sets of criteria to assess against.

If your MCP generates electricity both sets of controls may apply.

Assess if your MCP needs to meet the:

If both:

  • the regulations requiring the stricter controls will apply
  • you must get your permit by the earliest date set in the regulations

IED chapter 2 permits affected by the regulations

The specified generator regulations do not apply on a chapter 2 IED installation site. However, these regulations will inform site specific BAT.

MCP regulations do apply to a MCP on a chapter 2 IED installation. You must meet MCP requirements where it’s a:

  • primary activity – where the total rated thermal input is more than 50MWth on an installation, for example gas engines generating electricity
  • directly associated activity – combustion to another chapter 2 activity, for example combustion on a chemical manufacturing site

As a minimum, the MCP must meet the appropriate Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD) emission limit value (ELV) by the required date. If the existing ELVs (required by BAT) are stricter than required by MCPD, BAT continue to apply. A site specific BAT assessment may identify the need for stricter ELVs, for example to protect air quality.

If you can prove that site specific BAT has changed, for example you’ve changed a base load plant to a peaking plant, you can reassess ELVs. However MCPD requirements are the minimum standard required.

You will need to vary your permit if your chapter 2 IED installation:

  • includes an existing MCP – you will not have to do this until 2024 at the earliest
  • adds a new MCP – you will need to do this now

The regulator will include MCPD requirements in your permit, such as ELVs and monitoring.

Check the guidance Medium combustion plant: when you need a permit to find out if the regulations apply to your MCP and the deadlines for getting a permit.

Part B installations affected by the regulations

MCP and specified generator regulations apply to some Part B activities, in particular for sections:

  • 1.1 – combustion activities
  • 5.1 – incineration of waste wood

The Environment Agency for England and NRW for Wales will regulate the MCPD requirements. These were previously regulated by local authorities.

See guidance on the requirements for MCPs that are a Part B activity.

Published 15 July 2019