Permissions work alongside the general environmental duty, ensuring performance standards and conditions are meeting across a range of activities. There are 3 tiers of permissions based on the level of risk to human health and the environment: 

  1. Licences for high-risk prescribed activities.  
  2. Permits for medium-risk prescribed activities.  
  3. Registrations for low-risk prescribed activities.  

This risk-based approach means we can target different levels of risk with the right balance of permissions and conditions. Our Permissions scheme policy (publication 1799) outlines:  

  • your role, as the permission holder, in ensuring compliance and preventing harm  
  • what we consider when assessing an application for a permission  
  • how permissions work to manage the risks related to prescribed activities.

Licences and approvals have changed

EPA is bringing former licences, approvals and exemptions over to the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act).  The Act came into effect on 1 July 2021. EPA is: 

  • contacting licence holders to explain what has changed
  • updating waste acceptance and treatment codes, and their conditions 
  • updating conditions to reflect the Act. 

Most duty holders who held a permission have automatically continued to hold the equal permission under the Act

Changes are largely complete for licence and permit holders who managed prescribed waste or prescribed industrial waste under the Environment Protection Act 1970. To find out more, see Changes to licences and permits for waste.

All licences and permits will receive new statutory document identification numbers as they transition to equivalent permissions.

In the transition period ending 31 December 2023, all operating licences and permits will transition to the Environment Protection Act 2017 and be amended. In consultation with duty holders, EPA will determine which conditions will be amended, added or revoked. These amendments will also include the addition of new standard conditions where appropriate.

While the transition approach is underway, you must continue to meet all existing conditions of your permission.

We’ll be in touch with you to explain our approach and requirements during the transition period. In the meantime, you can review details of our timeline on Operating licences.

Check if you need a permission to find out more.

Permissions and other approval tools

Reviewed 21 July 2022