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PPS 11: Planning and Waste Management
The Relationship Between The Planning And Pollution Control Regimes

2.1 The planning and pollution control systems are separate but complementary systems of control and regulation designed to protect the environment from harm as a result of development and related operations.

Planning Control

2.2 Planning control focuses primarily on:
  • whether the development itself is an acceptable use of the land rather than on the control of the processes or substances involved; and
  • regulating the location of the development in order to avoid or minimise adverse effects on people, the use of land and the environment.
2.3 The pollution control regime is concerned with the control and regulation of proposed operations and processes and with their day to day operation. The objective is to ensure that the waste is disposed of or treated without endangering human health or causing harm to the environment.
2.4 The Department considers that planning control should not duplicate other statutory controls or be used to achieve objectives relating to other legislation. The Department must make its planning decisions on the basis that the pollution control regimes will be properly applied and enforced. The relevant expertise and statutory responsibility for pollution control rests with the relevant pollution control authorities.
2.5 Nevertheless the dividing line between each system of control is not always clear cut. Planning control is not an appropriate means of regulating the detailed characteristics of potentially polluting waste management activities. However matters relevant to a pollution control authorisation or licence may be material planning considerations.

Pollution Control

2.6 The Department’s Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) is currently the regulatory body that monitors and enforces environmental standards in relation to pollution control throughout Northern Ireland. The licensing and operational control of waste disposal facilities in Northern Ireland is currently the responsibility of District Councils but is scheduled to transfer to EHS in 2003.
2.7 Within EHS, the Waste Management and Contaminated Land Unit, Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate and the Water Management Unit all have important regulatory roles in relation to pollution control. The Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate is currently the regulatory authority for waste incineration and processes applications for authorisation to operate such prescribed processes as required by the Industrial Pollution Control (Northern Ireland) Order 1996.
2.8 The Waste Management and Contaminated Land Unit is responsible for the registration of waste carriers, implementation and enforcement of the Duty of Care Regulations and tracking the movement of hazardous waste in accordance with the Special Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1998. The Unit will also take over the role as the regulator for waste management licensing and for the Landfill Directive Regulations, including processing of IPPC4 permits for waste management proposals.
2.9 Water Management Unit, within EHS, processes applications for consents to discharge, under the Water (NI) Order 1999. Applications for consent to discharge are often required for waste management facilities due to their potential for pollution of groundwater and watercourses.
2.10 District Councils have various pollution control powers including those relating to waste disposal, nuisance, noise and air quality. Under the Pollution Control and Local Government (NI) Order 1978 it is an offence to dispose of controlled waste without a licence. Councils can vary a condition or revoke a licence and under Article 11 of the 1978 Order may require an occupier to remove waste deposited in breach of a condition. Powers available under section 110 of the Public Health (Ireland) Act 1878 enable Councils to issue an abatement notice where material deposited gives rise to a statutory nuisance within the meaning of section 107 of the Act. In preparing conditions attaching to a licence District Councils may have regard to best practice advice contained in the relevant Waste Management Papers 5 series originally prepared by DOE (England & Wales) and published by HMSO. As indicated above, the powers relating to waste licensing will transfer to EHS in 2003.


2.11 Pollution control authorities will be consulted on planning applications for waste management facilities in order to take account of the scope and requirements of the relevant pollution controls. In assessing such proposals, the weight attached to pollution issues associated with waste management will be reduced to the extent that they are capable of being addressed by the pollution control authority in carrying out its statutory responsibilities and will depend on the circumstances of each case.
2.12 Close consultation is essential to a proper understanding of the scope and requirements of the two regimes and decisions based on adequate information can minimise costly delays in the decision making process. The Department will continue to work closely with pollution control authorities and take their advice into account when developing policy, and in decision taking while avoiding duplication between the planning and pollution control systems.
2.13 It is recommended that developers discuss applications for planning permission, IPPC permits, licences, consents to discharge and authorisations for proposed waste management facilities with all the relevant authorities prior to submission of proposals. This can help avoid delay in the processing of applications. Wherever possible applications should also be determined in parallel to ensure that all the relevant issues and methods of control are properly considered.
2.14 Where authorisation to operate a waste management facility 6 is sought from EHS or the relevant District Council and planning permission is also required, such permission must be obtained before the permit or licence can be granted.
4 New Regulations are proposed to transpose the requirements of EC Directive 96/61 on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC). The Regulations are designed to protect the environment through the prevention of or reduction in pollution of air, water and land caused by emissions from industrial installations. Under the Directive Specified Waste Management Activities which includes most landfill sites and certain types of hazardous waste treatment will require permits.
5 For example, Waste Management Paper No 4: Licensing of Waste Management Facilities.
6 The authorisation is referred to as Waste Disposal Licence under the Pollution Control and Local Government (Northern Ireland) Order 1978. IPPC permits will be introduced in 2003 following the transposition of the IPPC Directive and under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 a new licensing system referring to a Waste Management Licence will be implemented in 2003.
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PPS 11: Planning & Waste Management

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