Regulatory decisions for monitoring and reporting

Monitoring and reporting emissions

If you’re not able to take samples of your emissions due to social distancing restrictions we will record that you’ve been unable to take the sample.

However, this will not be included in your annual compliance score as long as we’re satisfied that the failure is due to the Coronavirus pandemic and does not result in environmental pollution.

More detail can be found in the regulatory decision below.

Regulatory decision

We expect you to continue to comply with environmental regulations and your permit conditions. We will, however, take a proportionate response to any non-compliance notified to us, where is directly linked to issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Use of this regulatory decision will be recorded as a non-compliance with the conditions of your permit, however any score will be suspended and will not impact on your compliance rating providing you comply with the conditions laid out in it.

We will remove the score if:

  • you notify us as soon as reasonably practicable that there is a potential for COVID-19 to impact your monitoring and reporting permit requirements.
  • you clearly justify why you are not able to meet your monitoring and reporting permit/licence conditions
  • Your activity does not (and is not likely to) cause environmental pollution or harm to human health.
  • all other control measures to ensure compliance with release limits must be maintained
  • you clearly set out your consideration of alternative approaches such as use of a surrogate that may provide for actual monitoring/returns data and as such may provide some information towards meeting the permit/licence condition requirements
  • you reference your contingency plan for managing compliance with your permit/licence during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a copy of the relevant part of the plan

Noise monitoring

We have temporarily changed the way noise monitoring can be carried out for operators who can’t measure the noise impact of their site or activity due to the coronavirus restrictions.   

The full technical information can be found in the regulatory decision below.

Regulatory decision

During this period of national emergency, the following guidance is provided to operators and applicants regarding noise impact reports.

  1. The submission date for routine noise reports, required by permit condition, will be as soon as possible but no later than 12 months from the initial due date.
  2. The submission of reports to support new applications or variations of existing permits will be required to be as robust as is reasonably practicable in the current situation. From a technical perspective, it is recognised that background / residual / specific sound levels may be unrepresentative at this time as normal production rates may be unstable, traffic flows are reduced, and a significant number of businesses are on temporary shut down. Where estimates of background sound levels are made, these should be fully justified, and the level of uncertainty recognised within the report. The use of representative sound levels from previous reports and surveys may be appropriate. Where specific sound levels cannot be measured; manufacturer’s sound power level data, or preferably sound power levels previously measured at similar operational plant (in accordance with the requirements of relevant standards and guidance e.g. ISO 3740:2019, ISO 3746:2010, ISO 3747:2010 etc),may be used.
  3. While this regulatory decision is valid, NRW can insert permit conditions that require a confirmatory noise impact assessment to be carried out at a later date. Where there is an unexpected level of impact or a significant difference between the noise impact predicted and that actually measured at a later date – it will be the responsibility of the operator to address any additional noise impact within a reasonable time-frame either set-by, or agreed with, the regulator.
  4. NRW will only attend the most serious pollution complaints. Any surveys aimed at resolving serious on-going noise complaints must be carried out in full compliance with UK Government guidance and we will review our position as new information develops. Any assessment of noise impact should carefully consider the context within which readings and impact assessments have been undertaken. However, the engineering or procedural solution to many problems may not require a formal noise survey to be undertaken.

Where a significant impact is occurring, the operator should determine whether on-going production using a particular item of plant, suspected of causing unacceptable noise impact, is essential at this time and whether a temporary fix may be implemented. It is recognised that background sound levels may be unrepresentatively low at present, and therefore (as per BS 4142) the margin by which the rating level of a specific sound source exceeds the background sound level may be increased; giving a raised level of impact that may not be representative of the typical acoustic situation. Operators will not be penalised where previously acceptable emissions are now having a greater impact due to the unusually low background sound levels during this period.

However, companies should be aware that, with increased numbers of people confined to home during the day, their normal activities may have an increased impact at this time. Operators should therefore still take responsible actions where reasonable and appropriate.

Finally, some companies may have increased production (rates or durations) as they are directly involved in the critical supply chain for necessary goods during this period. In these circumstances, whilst the duty to employ BAT still applies; some relaxation will be given to unavoidable temporary increase in noise levels for operators contributing to the national effort at this time.

This guidance will be applicable to most operations during this period however, we recognise that applications where a higher impact is expected we could have to reconsider this approach.

If you have any queries on the above statement, please call 03000 065 3000.