Consolidation and review of environmental permit for Chirk 'Kronospan' Particleboard factory

Background

Kronospan Limited have been operating a particleboard and medium density fibreboard (MDF) manufacturing plant in Chirk, North Wales for many years. The activities involved in manufacturing the boards have required several environmental permits to control the levels of potentially harmful emissions resulting from the activities and to ensure that the techniques used are in line with technical advances and industry standards. These standards are known as ‘Best Available Techniques’ (BAT).

The activities at the Installation (site) that are regulated by the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016 (EPR) have been the subject of various Directions from Government. Most notably, the first Direction was in 2003 which split that regulation between Wrexham County Borough Council (WCBC) and the Environment Agency Wales (now subsumed into Natural Resources Wales (NRW)).

In March 2018 the Welsh Government issued a further Direction (the ‘2018 Direction’) which required NRW to consolidate the two existing permits for the site into one, and then subsequently conduct all regulatory functions in relation to that permit.

This will essentially ‘normalise’ the regulation of the site, in that all relevant activities will be regulated by a single environmental regulator, NRW. After the consolidated permit is issued, WCBC will no longer regulate activities at the site, which will no longer be subject to a Ministerial Direction.

Draft permit variation and consolidation 

NRW have completed the variation and consolidation of the two regulators’ permits into a draft for review and public consultation.

We have completed our extensive determination of activities and through the course of our scrutiny, we have requested a significant amount of further information from the operator to carry out our detailed assessments.  Our final request was for the operator to submit a fully consolidated air dispersion modelling report, so that we could audit predicted releases from the whole site, including from plant and process investments at the site since October 2014, when the current version of the WCBC permit was issued.  This provides a baseline for all emissions to air from the whole site which allowed us to carry out a full human health and ecological assessment of releases to air from the site.

The consolidated draft permit also brings about a full review of conditions and limits to ensure compliance with EPR, the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and BAT.

Note - Kronospan’s original variation application also contained a proposal for a new oriented strand board (OSB) production line, which does not form part of the current determination and hence variation notice and consolidated draft permit.

Public consultation

We carried out a public consultation on our draft decision between 16 June and 17 July 2022, in accordance with the Environment Permitting Regulations (EPR), Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and our statutory Public Participation Statement.  

We advertised our draft decision by a notice placed on our website. The variation notice, consolidated draft permit and our draft detailed decision document were placed on our on-line public register. We also held face to face drop-in sessions at Chirk Town Hall on Tuesday 28th June and Wednesday 29th June.

Now that the consultation has closed, we will consider all representations we received during the consultation and amend our decision document to explain how we have done this.

What next?

Depending on the volume and complexity of representations we received during the consultation, it is anticipated that it will take us approximately 10 to 12 weeks (by end September-early October) to give them appropriate consideration, update our decision document, and if required the draft permit.

If we conclude that we can issue the consolidated permit and variation notice to Kronospan Limited, we will publicise our final decision and update this position statement. NRW will then become the single environmental regulator for the site and subsequently conduct all regulatory functions in relation to the permit.

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