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Environment Agency Pre-Application Advice

Permit applications rely on two stages of scrutiny, the first being Duly Making the second being Determination. Up to September 2018 Duly Making Checks used to be very basic, consisting of checks on application forms and whether or not supporting documents were present. The permit would then be Duly Made and passed for determination. If the application is not duly made, the the application will be returned (forced withdrawal) and you will have to start all over again.

As of September 2018 the Environment Agency have:

  1. Started to Charge for "Enhanced Pre-Application Advice
  2. Made Duly Making Checks a Lot More Thorough

This has resulted in the chances of an application being returned very high. A retuned application wastes around 6 weeks a time.

The strategy behind these changes is to push back against very poor permit applications, which waste a great deal of Environment Agency time. However, they overlook the fact that in some complex cases Environment Agency input is required at a level of detail which cannot be applied at duly making.

So in conclusion the new shift of determination like scrutiny on to the duly making stage will results in permit application being returned on-mass. Unless the applicant seeks "Enhanced" Pre-Application Advice.

Basic Pre-Application Advice

This usually amounts to an email stuffed with links to government webpages. These webpages then reference in turn 1000's of pages of horizontal guidance, which in turn reference BAT reference documents which can in some instances contain 1000 pages per document. Basic Pre-Application Advise is useless. We have requested this perhaps once or twice in the early days of EPR, but soon saw that is was vague and in most cases erroneous.

Enhanced Pre-Application Advice

What form will this Pre-Application Advice take? Will it be of a higher quality, is it guaranteed accurate? If it contains errors that lead to a permit application being returned, will the applicant received a refund? We are not sure at present, but in most cases unless you application is a very basic one, you are forced to pay, as the the chances of making a successful application (or even variation) without it are very very slim.

What Happened to Logic?

The correct way to generate more revenue would be to increase application fees, or charge for Schedule 5 Five Requests, from the outset. Both these methods would not create the on-mass rejection (return) of the majority of permit applications.

It is not hard to see that the Environment Agency are digging them selves in to a reputational hole with their more recent stance. We have a current government that gives low priority to environmental protection, plus possible deregulation resulting from brexit. Despite this hostile back drop the EA have seen fit to introduce measures that will slow the acceptance and approval of permit applications. This is detrimental to economic growth, and they jeopardise their future on that basis.