Response 462848859

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About You

What is your name?

Name
The Coal Authority

Are you responding as an individual or an organisation?

Please select one item
(Required)
Individual
Ticked Organisation

What is your organisation?

Organisation
The Coal Authority

Part 2: Policy Overview

1. Do you agree with the benefits set out here?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

2. Are there any other comments you would like to make on Part 2?

Are there any other comments you would like to make on Part 2?§
No comment

3. How could SEPA better support the uptake of new technologies?

How could SEPA better support the uptake of new technologies?
It is welcomed that the link between commercial and environmental benefits are seen as being complimentary, and that innovation is recognised as an essential component to maximise value from these. The Coal Authority is progressing a number of innovations that are a substantial departure from previous practices, and that may require an increased flexibility from regulators to be able to trial. To aid this process early engagement, and a consideration of the catchment benefits to multiple stakeholders, and to the wider gain of the country, would provide an holistic approach. It will be an assistance if any resulting flexibility is applied consistently at strategic and enforcement levels with processes to enable this, and avoid variations of applying powers and requirements, being built into the framework.

Part 3: Key features of the new framework for authorisation holders.

4. Do you agree that the framework should include a set of universal outcomes?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

5. If so, are the outcomes proposed the right ones?

Comments:
The three proposed outcomes are a good choice. However, it is possible that when many people read “prevent harm” they will think of harm to people, rather than the environment. It could also be argued that incidents and accidents can cause environmental harm. So it is suggested that the wording is clarified such that the three outcomes are clearly different, or alternatively merge “prevent harm” together with “prevent incidents and accidents”.

6. Do you see any opportunities within your sector for industry- led guidance to be produced to support this approach and how could it support you to deliver better?

Comments:
Given that the Coal Authority’s remit of managing the legacy of coal mining is a highly specialised, probably unique one, there is little scope for developing such guidance. We are more than happy to continue to liaise directly with SEPA over the implications of changes such as those proposed here.

7. Do you understand the descriptions of the regulated activities in Annex 2?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Comments:
Yes, it is clear

8. Do you agree that these are the right factors for SEPA to consider?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Comments:
Yes, we agree

9. Do you agree that SEPA should consult on the guidance setting out the likely tier of authorisation for particular activities?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Do you agree that SEPA should consult on the guidance setting out the likely tier of authorisation for particular activities?
Yes, we agree. This may provide a useful opportunity to have a say in how short term tests will be regulated, especially pumping tests which may last a few months, but which inform our management strategy for many years, and similarly for testing for innovation projects.

10. Do you agree that standard rules will deliver the benefits we have set out?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Comments:
Yes, we agree. However, to date the Coal Authority’s mine water treatment programme has not seen any benefit from anything approaching standard rules. All our schemes have bespoke permits with bespoke conditions. We would be interested in arranging a discussion with SEPA over which areas could potentially benefit from standard rules. A different approach may be needed for purely passive schemes, which do not have any power supply on site, compared to sites which do have power available.

11. Do you agree with the procedure for making standard rules?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
If not, why not?
Yes, we agree in general. However, the Coal Authority’s operations are believed to be unique in Scotland. Thus a consultation exercise may be of limited value given that no other businesses do what we do. It would be useful, therefore, for SEPA to retain a right to create standard rules without consultation, for activities which SEPA consider to be effectively unique to a single organisation.

12. Do you agree that SEPA and Scottish Ministers should have the ability to make GBRs?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Comments:
Yes, we agree

13. Do you agree that all regulated activities should have an authorised person responsible for overall compliance and that this person should be named in a permit and registration?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
If not why not?
Yes, given that the person can be a company, in our case this would be the Coal Authority

14. Do you think it is proportionate to require the person in control to be the person that notifies an activity in the notification tier?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

15. Do you agree that SEPA should include more than one person as the authorised person where appropriate?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

16. Do you have any views on how SEPA should decide if a person is in “control”?

Comments:
We do not have any views on this.

17. Question 17 – Do you think the core requirements set out here will deliver the right approach to FPP for the integrated authorisation framework?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

18. Do you think that the criteria set out above will achieve the stated purpose of the FPP test?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

19. Do you agree with the proposed application processes?

Comments:
Yes, in general, but see answer to Q20

20. Do you agree with the proposal to have a statutory determination period of four months for the majority of permit applications?

If not, what do you think the determination period should be?
For a new application we agree with the proposed 4 month period. However, for variations to existing licences, we find that operational changes can be required on a much shorter timescale. For example, if a mine water scheme unexpectedly receives more water from the mine workings, then a scheme may exceed its normal allowance for abstraction volume. Consequently, the treatment scheme is unlikely to work as well as normal. Yet, the best outcome for the environment would likely still be that all the water be treated, as against only the portion which could be rightfully abstracted. A further example has arisen during a pumping test where it has become desirable to extend the boundaries of the testing. It seems that the only way to proceed is to go through the 4 month variation determination period. This is despite there being no environmental impact as a result of the testing so far, as well as a predictive model indicating no adverse impact for the next stages of the test. This is delaying the ability to make strategic management and investment decisions due to the lack of sufficient pumping test data. SEPA need the flexibility to be able to make pragmatic decisions on the best environmental outcome in a much shorter timescale, and be allowed to agree dispensations to normal permitted limits. Such decisions would need to consider available evidence, such as sampling results, and predictive models. The present CAR regime does not appear to offer this flexibility.

21. Should the legislation make a clear distinction for applications for “non-standard” activities?

Comments:
No comment

22. What other alternative arrangements would you suggest for managing non-standard applications?

Comments:
No comment

23. Do you agree with the proposals for variations?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
If not, why not?
We agree in general. However, the comments given to Q20 in regard to the four month determination period being over-long for variations also apply here.

24. Do you agree with the proposals for transfer?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
If not, why not?
Yes, we agree

25. Do you agree with the proposals for surrender?

If not, why not?
No comment

26. Do you agree with the proposed approach to enforcement notices set out above?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Comments:
Yes, we agree in general. However there does not appear to be any onus on SEPA to consider the technical feasibility, or the cost implications associated with issuing such notices. For example, the Coal Authority operates several passive mine water treatment schemes which, by definition, rely only on natural processes. Their intent is to provide environmental improvement for a minimal cost to the public purse. They generally do this very well. However, the natural processes they rely on are variable between sites, and through time. It would not normally be reasonable to expect significant investment to be made in such a system should it not be performing quite as well as anticipated, yet it may be able to carry on offering a good amount of treatment for many more years.

27. Do you agree a notice used in the way set out in 3.7.10 to 3.7.12 is a different type of notice and should be therefore be called something different, such as an improvement notice?

Comments:
No comment

28. What benefits and drawbacks do you foresee from SEPA using enforcement notices in the way set out at 3.7.10 to 3.7.12?

Comments:
None in particular. However, to follow on from comments in Q20, we note that there would be somewhat of a disparity if, on one hand, SEPA can issue enforcement notices for poor operators, yet, on the other hand, cannot easily offer dispensations to operators who wish to innovate and to push back boundaries whilst implementing agreed mitigations against significant harm.

29. Do you agree we should retain suspension notices for use in circumstances where we wish to suspend an activity in order to protect the environment, but the authorised person is not being ‘enforced’ against?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Comments
We agree

30. Do you agree SEPA should have the power to revoke authorisations in these circumstances?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Comments:
We agree

31. Do you agree that appeals against SEPA decisions should continue to be heard by the DPEA on behalf of Scottish Ministers?

If not, which alternative body do you think should hear such appeals and why?
No comment

32. Do you have any views on the proposed policy principles for transitional arrangements?

Comments:
Whilst we do not have any specific views, we are interested to find out more about the possible mutual benefits to SEPA and the Coal Authority of the integrated or corporate authorisations mentioned. We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with SEPA.

33. Do you have any suggestions for how SEPA might manage the workload to implement integrated, and corporate, authorisations?

Comments:
No suggestions

Part 4: Key features of the new framework for the public

34. Do you support SEPA having more flexibility in how information is made available to the public?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Comments:
We support SEPA in this.

35. Do you agree that a consistent, flexible and proportionate approach to public participation should be adopted?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Comments:
Yes, we agree

36. Do you agree that the procedural arrangements for third party call-in under CAR should be extended to all regulated activities?

Comments:
The Coal Authority had a CAR application which went through the third party call in procedure. The process appeared to work as intended. However, this experience does not provide us sufficient experience to either agree or disagree with extending the process to other activities.

Part 5: Pollution Prevention and Control

37. Do you consider that the provisions of the universal outcomes contain equivalent protection as BAT in relation to domestic activities?

If not, why not?
No comment

38. Do you have any comments on the potential impact of this change for other industrial pollution risk activities?

Do you have any comments on the potential impact of this change for other industrial pollution risk activities?
No comment

Part 7: Radioactive Substances

39. Do you agree that it is appropriate to have controls on radioactively contaminated materials whilst they remain on the premises where they were contaminated?

If not, why not?
No comment

40. Do you foresee any practical implications of the proposal to have controls on radioactively contaminated materials whilst they remain on the premises where they were contaminated?

Do you foresee any practical implications of the proposal to have controls on radioactively contaminated materials whilst they remain on the premises where they were contaminated?
No comment

41. Do you agree that all substances associated with NORM industrial activities should be subject to control under the integrated authorisation framework, where they exceed the out-of-scope values, irrespective of whether or not they are classed as radioactive material or waste?

If not, why not?
No comment

42. Do you foresee any significant implications of this proposed change, e.g. are there any finished products (consumer products or construction materials) that would become classified as radioactive material?

Do you foresee any significant implications of this proposed change, e.g. are there any finished products (consumer products or construction materials) that would become classified as radioactive material?
No comment

43. Do you agree that we should continue to exclude the public from the scope of the radioactive substances regulatory regime?

If not, why not?
No comment

44. Do you agree with the proposed radioactive substances regulated activities?

If not, why not?
No comment

45. Do you agree with the proposals for applying the new regulatory regime to nuclear licensed sites?

If not, why not?
No comment

46. Do you foresee any problems with removing the requirement to display certificates?

Do you foresee any problems with removing the requirement to display certificates?
No comment

47. Do you agree that SEPA should have the power to impose conditions in an authorisation requiring the permit holder to carry out operations off their site?

If not, why not?
No comment