On the 2nd October 2023, the Environment Agency introduced an updated framework for the regulation of new cemeteries under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016 (EPR). This is set out in their online guidance “Protecting groundwater from human burials”. New cemetery developments must do one of the following:
- meet the exemptions for low environmental risk cemeteries – these exemptions were introduced on 2nd October 2023, are free, and do not need to be registered.
- operate under a standard rules permit – the EA are currently developing standard rules permits for cemeteries. They will be consulting on these rules, and the nature and costs of these permits in the near future.
- operate under a bespoke permit – bespoke permits are required where new cemetery developments cannot meet the exemptions or Standard Rules Permits (when available). They therefore cover higher risk sites.
The Environment Agency is currently holding a public consultation on proposed changes to the charges applied to water quality permits, issued under the EPR. These permit charges are being reviewed for the first time since 2018. The consultation will be open from w/c 29th January for a 6-week period. The consultation can be found online at “Environment Agency consultation: charge proposals for water discharges”. The documents providing the detail of the consultation are at the bottom of the website, alongside a link to respond to the consultation online.
The consultation relates to many types of water quality permit. For cemeteries, this consultation proposes:
- an application fee charge for bespoke permits (option 3. above) of £4,475 – see table 14 on page 39 of the “Charges consultation on water discharges” document.
- annual subsistence charges to increase by a maximum of 12% – see table 8 on page 31 of the “Charges consultation on water discharges” document.
The reason for this is due to the time taken to determine permit applications and the need for the Environment Agency to recover its costs. Cemeteries which need permits to dispose of foul or trade effluent to groundwater or surface water may also be affected.
Members are encourage to respond to this consultation as feedback will be vital for shaping the final approach. The Environment Agency will review all comments then revise proposals and submit to the Secretary of State for approval. If granted, the new charging scheme will go live later in Spring of 2024.