Environmental Permitting Regulations

Use this information to help complete an EPR application when planning new pig housing or slurry storage facilities.

The Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR), formerly the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive, aim to reduce pollution from industrial activity by controlling emissions. Indoor pig keepers with more than 2,000 finishing pig places (above 30 kg) or 750 sow places (including served gilts) at a site are required to obtain a permit from the Environment Agency (EA).

Best available techniques

Permitted sites are required to adopt minimum standards of management practice and ‘best available techniques’ (BAT) for their production processes. This describes management practices, housing systems and techniques that minimise emissions and environmental impact.

These techniques have to be employed when planning new pig housing and slurry storage facilities on permitted installations. 

Guidance is available on:

  • Environmental management systems
  • General farm process management (good housekeeping)
  • Nutritional management
  • Efficient use and management of water
  • Efficient use of energy
  • Noise, dust and odour management
  • Manure and slurry management including: Storage, processing and land application
  • Practical solutions to reducing emissions including ammonia e.g. slurry cooling

The Government also provides guidance on how to comply with your environmental permit for intensive agriculture. 

The format of the permits has not altered, although the application, variation and surrender forms have.

Applying for a permit 

Before starting an application, make sure you complete the pre-application checks.

Contact the local Environment Agency (EA) office to arrange a pre-application discussion. The EA's customer service team will be able to put you in touch with your local office. 

Pre-application stage

At the pre-application discussion, the Environment Officer will advise about the application process and identify nearby nature conservation sites and neighbours who will need to be considered in the environmental risk assessment. They will also advise about what should, and should, not be included in the permit.

The Environment Officer will gather the information needed for the EA to run a simple screening assessment of expected ammonia emissions using their Ammonia Screening Tool. They will produce a report which says whether the producers need to employ an experienced consultant to produce a detailed modelling assessment to assess the potential impact of ammonia emissions at nearby nature conservation sites. Producers will need to include the pre-application screening report and, if needed, detailed modelling assessment with their application. The assessment and modelling report will form part of the risk assessment.

What if emissions exceed the threshold?

If the modelling report indicates emissions from your farm exceed the allowable threshold at the nature conservation site, you will need to propose reduction techniques to reduce emissions to the allowable level. For guidance, contact your knowledge exchange manager or visit the pork knowledge library for further information.

Odour and noise

It is possible that odour and noise from your farm may impact nearby receptors such as local residents, schools, hospitals, parks or businesses. Producers will need to submit a written odour and noise management plan as part of their application where their farm is within 400 metres of sensitive receptors or if it has been the cause of odour complaints in the past. 

Slurry store covers

Slurry stores with less than 1% dry matter must be covered (as of August 2022).

Previously, operators of permitted pig and poultry farms who could demonstrate that their livestock slurry had a dry matter content of less than 1% did not need to not cover their slurry stores. The Environment Agency withdrew this position because they found no evidence to support its continued use.

The Environment Agency will be providing further guidance in the near future.

Read the Environment Agency regulatory position statement

Tips, tools and advice on slurry storage

Podcast: Everything you need to know about environmental permitting regulations

EPR model application templates

We have developed EPR model templates, in conjunction with the EA and Defra, that you can use and adapt for your own EPR applications. While they’re not a ‘gold-plated standard,’ they can help you to achieve a good application in a timely and cost-efficient manner. 

The templates correspond to the new Environment Agency Forms version B3.5

How to apply for an environmental permit

All supporting documents will also need to be clearly accessible on site, for farm staff, by the time of the permit issue.

Nitrogen and Phosphorus reporting

The annual reporting of N & P excretion levels is now a requirement for all permitted farms. Producers can either use the new mass balance tools developed by the Environment Agency, or report excretions using results of slurry/manure sampling.

Reporting is required from January 2025, with retrospective reporting for the 2024 calendar.

The Environment Agency will provide further guidance on how to calculate and report your results over the coming months. Contact your local Environment Agency Officer for further information.  

Broiler excreta mass balance model

Layer excreta mass balance model

Variations to or surrender of a permit

Once you have a permit, if you want to change anything, such as putting up a new shed or altering drains, you will need to apply for a variation. 

Application to vary an environmental permit

Permit surrender

If an operator chooses to cancel their permit, this is referred to as a permit surrender. The operator has to apply to the Environment Agency to surrender their permit.

There are several parts to the application form and they can be downloaded from GOV.UK via Change, transfer or cancel your environmental permit. Please refer to the section titled ‘Cancel an installations, waste and mining waste operations permit’ for links to the form parts.

The operator will also need to complete the ‘surrender’ section of their site condition report that was submitted as part of the original permit application. This is so the Environment Agency can check that the operator has protected land and groundwater while the farm had a permit and that the land is in a satisfactory state when the operator surrenders their permit.

There is a charge to surrender a permit. An intensive farming surrender application would usually class as a low-risk surrender. This means that the application charge is lower and that there is no need for sampling.

The full surrender charge for an intensive farming permit is £4,812; a low-risk surrender charge is 20% of the permit application charge (£8,020) and is £1,604.

The operator will need to get agreement from their local Environment Officer that the farm can apply for a low risk surrender. There is a box to tick in part E2 of the form to say it that it is a low-risk surrender.

Further information on the charges is available via Environmental permitting charges guidance.

Empty farms

If a permitted farm stops rearing livestock for between 1–2 years, under the environmental permitting charging scheme the operator can request ‘temporary cessation’. The Environment Agency will then reduce their annual subsistence charge by 50%. This applies to farms that are members of the Pig and Poultry Assurance Scheme and those that are not in the scheme.

For farms that are in the scheme, the subsistence charge will reduce from £1,444 to £722. For farms not in the scheme, the subsistence charge will reduce from £2,386 to £1,193.

Contact your local Environment Officer to request temporary cessation.

After two years, the charge will increase back to the full amount.

Further information on is available via Environmental permitting charges guidance.