Planning Update: Environmental Licensing and Planning Considerations of a Food & Beverage Facility
28 March 2018
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is Ireland’s environmental watchdog with several key functions including environmental monitoring and reporting; environmental licensing; and environmental enforcement, in addition to a research and education role. The EPA approves and issues all the environmental licences that your business may require, with the relevant local authority or An Bord Pleanála considering the planning permission applications which may be required in order to establish a food and beverage facility.
Environmental licensing considerations
The EPA has been licensing certain activities since 1994. European Union law has harmonised licensing in respect of industrial emissions into air and water. The system, known as Integrated Pollution Control (IPC), applies in Ireland to a range of large industry sectors including minerals, chemicals processing and food and intensive agriculture. Some of the categories of industry coming within the scope of an IPC license include food and drink, minerals and other materials, metals, fossil fuels and chemicals. Within these categories, many will be subject to thresholds. Facilities using energy installations in these sectors must hold an IPC licence. In order to hold an IPC licence, the facility operator is obliged to have the relevant qualifications and experience and must be financially secure. The licensee is obliged to adhere to the strict associated licence conditions. In order to be successfully granted an IPC licence, an applicant must satisfy the EPA that emissions from the activity do not cause a significant adverse environmental impact. Industrial emissions licenses are also required for many of the categories mentioned above, such as for food and drink.
In respect of waste licensing, a waste licence is a single integrated licence dealing with emissions to all environmental media and the environmental management of the facility. An applicant must satisfy the EPA that the activity intended to be carried out at the facility will not cause pollution and to that end, must adhere to the strict licence conditions imposed.
If you intend on purchasing a facility which already holds an environmental licence, the transfer process is relatively straightforward and can be completed within 6-8 weeks, unless any issues arise in the approval process. Transfer fees range from €2,500 to €5,500. Applications are made jointly by the current licensee and proposed licensee and are completed online using the EPA platform “EDEN”. The current licensee will need to submit an approved Environmental Liability Risk Assessment (ELRA) and Closure, Restoration and Aftercare Management Plan (CRAMP) which will address any financial liabilities of the site. A proposed licensee will be obliged to submit a Financial Provision for approval by the Office of Environmental Enforcement, which can take a number of weeks to approve and therefore should be arranged as soon as practicably possible. A Financial Provision is required so that the proposed transferee is in a position to meet any financial commitments or liabilities incurred in carrying out the activity at the site or in ceasing to do so.
Planning in Ireland is governed by the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities will review each planning application made in consideration of the overarching objective of sustainable development and in consideration of the local area development plan. Further, if the local authority considers the facility or proposed development to be a “strategic” development or infrastructure, this may entitle the facility to a fast-tracked planning process. An Environmental Impact Assessment may also be required to evaluate any significant impact the facility may have on the environment.
Before making the final decision as to the whereabouts of a facility, it is essential that developers consider the relevant local planning and environmental laws to ensure that the business is in a position to comply with the requisite National and European laws and further that the procedural requirements associated with same do not delay the completion of these acquisitions or sales.
For more information on locating a facility, contact a member of our Planning & Environment team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.