Pollution prevention and control
As a precautionary measure in response to coronavirus (COVID-19), normal services for pollution prevention and control permits have been suspended.
Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC or LAPPC) is a legal framework for preventing and controlling pollution from certain industrial and commercial business activities.
Anyone who runs a business which could release pollutants into the atmosphere must use the best available techniques to control and manage this risk, striking a balance between costs and environmental benefits.
Any Belfast-based business which could emit pollutants into the atmosphere must apply to us for a permit. Examples include dry cleaners, vehicle paint re-sprayers, concrete batching plants and petrol stations.
The fee to apply for a permit varies, depending on the business you intend to operate.
It costs £158 to apply for a permit to operate a dry cleaners or petrol station. The annual subsistence fee for these businesses is £158.
The fee for an application for a vehicle paint re-sprayers in £283 and the subsistence fee is also £283.
All other applications cost £1,647 for the first application and the annual subsistence fee can vary depending on risk - from £760 to £1461.
Apply for a pollution prevention and control permit
If you want to run any of the businesses listed above, you must apply for a permit at least six months before you want to open your premises.
Please read the terms and conditions for online services and our privacy statement.
Before you apply, you should read the pollution prevention and control process guidance notes specific to your business.
If you are applying online, you must email any documents relevant to your application, along with your reference number, to email@example.com or post them to:
Pollution Prevention and Control
Environmental Health Service
Belfast City Council
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
You can also request a copy of the application form by calling us on 028 9020 0428.
If applying by post, you should make three copies of your application form before returning it, along with the appropriate fee and any documents required, to the address above.
What information is needed for the application?
Permit applications should:
- provide a detailed outline of the industrial activity
- name the emissions released into the air during each stage of the activity
- describe the technology that will be used to prevent and minimise emissions - these should be the best available techniques
- describe the impact the installation will have on the environment.
The level of detail required will be less for petrol stations and dry cleaners.
Make sure to read the pollution prevention and control process guidance notes specific to your business before you begin, and have the following documents ready:
- plan of the entire premises
- floor plan of any equipment that could release emissions.
Any techniques to control emissions into the air must comply with the best available techniques and, if they don't, you must justify why and give evidence of their suitability.
If you have any technical information regarding the pollution abatement equipment installed on your premises, this should be included with your application. We recommend that you supply any data that indicates the efficiency or performance of the chosen abatement plant.
Ideally, you should provide any emissions monitoring data that you may have regarding your plant and quantify the mass emission rate associated with the substances released to air. This will show whether your activity complies with certain pollutant emission limit values.
You will be asked how you intend to monitor emissions from your installation, as well as for a site plan identifying the different parts of the activity and the positioning of exhaust stack(s).
The exhaust stack(s) at your installation must be appropriately designed to ensure the premises is of an adequate height above nearby buildings. This will allow dilution and dispersion emissions to such an extent that their impact is insignificant by the time they reach nearby receptors.
You must indicate the height and location of all emission points to air. Ideally, you should provide a calculation demonstrating the adequacy of exhaust stack heights. The calculation detailed in the HMIP Technical Guidance Note D1 Guidelines on Discharging Stack heights for Polluting Emissions should be adopted.
You will also be asked how you intend to monitor emissions from your installation. Stack or isokenetic emissions testing is commonly carried out once a year by specialist consultants who can extract samples of air from your main exhaust stack and analyse these for certain pollutant emission concentrations.
Emissions concentrations can also be monitored and recorded continuously using equipment installed on the exhaust stack(s).
Depending on the type of activity you operate, this more complicated type of emissions monitoring may not be required - instead, you will only be asked to carry out a daily visual assessment of emissions from your exhaust stack to guarantee there are no visible emissions.
It is essential that all the equipment used at your premises, especially items related to pollution control, are well maintained and serviced regularly.
Training your staff to operate equipment correctly and educating them about how to reduce emissions during their day-to-day work activities is an integral part of environmental management.
The procedures and policies of your proposed environmental management techniques should be explained in your application. These should refer to equipment inspection and maintenance, record-keeping, staff training, equipment operating procedures and the process for dealing with abnormal or unintentional releases, for example, during equipment breakdowns or the start-up of the installation.
How long does it take to process an application?
After we receive your completed application, and all the documents specific to your business, we will contact you to arrange an inspection of your premises.
Tacit approval does not apply to your application – this means that you must not start trading until you receive written confirmation from us that your permit has been granted. Any business operating without a permit can be fined up to £30,000 and the person responsible could face up to six months in prison.
The permit will specify conditions which will set emission limit values and operational controls and help minimise and prevent pollution, based on the best available techniques (BAT).
Under PPC regulations, anyone applying for a permit to run any of the businesses listed above (except for dry cleaners and mobile plants) must also advertise in the local press that they have applied to us for a permit.
Full details of the application, except for information that is commercially confidential or would prejudice national security, must be made available so members of the public can comment or object before any permit is granted.
We liaise with other statutory bodies, such as the Eastern Health and Social Services Board, so they can review and comment on the application. We can also request more information, both formally and informally, from businesses through an 'information notice'.
A visit will be organised to discuss your application and inspect your installation or equipment. We will then either grant or refuse your application within six months of the application being received, along with any relevant payment and all the documentation needed for the specified business.
If your application is granted, we will ‘duly make’ your permit which allows you, as the applicant, to comment on the technical appropriateness and practicality of the permit conditions. You will also be required to pay a subsistence fee each year for holding a permit.
Are permits renewed automatically?
We carry out reviews every few years to check that the conditions detailed in your permit adequately cover activity at your premises and reflect the appropriate standards and the best available techniques.
Permits are also reviewed if any new information is provided by the government about new techniques or the environmental effects of pollutants.
If the conditions of your permit do need to be updated, we will issue your business with a variation notice.
Does the council check if people are complying with the conditions of their permit?
Yes, our staff carry out regular compliance inspections to check that installations are operated and managed according to the conditions of their permits. If we receive any complaints about emissions from your installation or business, we will arrange a visit to investigate the matter in more detail.
What happens if you need to change, surrender or transfer a permit?
Changes to installations
If you decide to make a change(s) to the way your installation operates, you need to notify us in writing, 14 days before you make the change. We will then decide whether the proposed change(s) means the conditions of your permit need altered.
If the proposed change(s) is deemed a significant change to the permitted process, then we will issue a variation notice on the business which outlines all of the changes made to the permit. A fee may accompany this application.
If you intend to stop operating your installation (in whole or in part), you must tell us in writing. This correspondence should include the information specified in regulation 20(3) of the PPC Regulations which includes:
The operator’s telephone number and address, and if different, any other correspondence address in the case of a partial surrender of a permit, details of the plant and the machinery it applies to the date when the permit will be surrendered.
Transferring a permit or part of a permit
Before a permit can be completely or partially transferred to another person, a joint application to transfer must be made by both the existing and the proposed permit holders. A transfer will be allowed, unless we believe that the proposed holder will not comply with the conditions of the transferred permit.
To apply, use the application form above, outlining details of the joint application to transfer in the 'any other details' section of the application.
What are the statutory obligations for a business?
Businesses have a responsibility under workplace health and safety laws. However, this permit only relates to the requirements of PPC regulations. You must not use it to replace any responsibilities you have under workplace health and safety laws.
The permit does not detract from any other statutory requirements, including the need to obtain planning permission, hazardous substances discharge consent from the Environment and Heritage Service and the Department of the Environment, building regulation approval or certain waste disposal licence requirements.
Can businesses appeal against the conditions of a permit?
Anyone who wants to appeal against the conditions attached to a permit can do so to the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC).
Appeals must be made in accordance with the requirements of Regulation 28 and Schedule 9 of the PPC regulations and should be sent to the Planning Appeals Commission. Their address is:
Planning Appeals Commission
Environment (NI) Order 2002 Appeals
89-91 Great Victoria Street
An appeal brought under Regulation 28, Paragraph (1) (C), (D) or (E) of the PPC Regulations in relation to the conditions of a permit will not suspend the effect of the conditions appealed against. Instead, the conditions must be complied with.
In determining an appeal against one or more conditions, the regulations also allow the PAC, in addition, to quash any of the other conditions not subject to the appeal and to instruct the council to either vary any of these other conditions or to add new conditions to the permit.