Environmental Regulation of Drax Power Limited - Information Page

Closes 31 Dec 2023

Opened 20 Jan 2023

Overview

We have created this web page to provide easy access to information on a staged environmental permit application from Drax Power Limited (Drax).

Environmental regulation of Drax

Drax hold an environmental permit for burning biomass on four units, and coal on two units. It sets out legally binding conditions for operation covering air emissions, fuel storage, water treatment and discharge. The permit also includes monitoring and reporting requirements.

Drax is proposing to develop Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) at their site in North Yorkshire. Drax is required to submit an application to vary their permit to carry out the activity. This will be carried out via a staged application - meaning that information will be submitted to us, the Environment Agency, in stages over the next few months.

We will consult widely on this application once we have all the information required to start looking at the application documents in detail. We anticipate this will be spring/summer 2023. The exact timing depends on when we have received all the necessary information from Drax.

Environment Agency Officer at Drax Power Ltd, North Yorkshire

Environment Agency role

Our role is to ensure that carbon capture and utilisation in England is conducted in a way that protects people and the environment. Operators wishing to capture carbon for storage or utilisation will need an environmental permit under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2016 from the Environment Agency.

We only issue permits to organisations who can demonstrate they can meet all of our requirements and can provide a high level of protection to people and the environment. If an applicant does not demonstrate an ability to comply with such conditions, the permit variation will be refused.

We do not regulate the transport and offshore storage of carbon dioxide.

We do not regulate the sustainability of feedstocks used by power generation plants for energy production. The sustainability of biomass and how this fits into the government’s energy strategy falls within the remit of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Our regulatory role is focussed on the operation of the plant and ensuring that any environmental risks arising from the operation are fully assessed, understood and minimised.

Variation to current environmental permit 

What is the variation to the permit for?

Drax is applying for a ‘Staged Variation Application’ to their existing permit, in order to incorporate a new activity for carbon capture. This variation will be required to permit the operation of the carbon capture activity proposed by Drax relating to its BECCS project.

Staged application

The Environment Agency has recognised that we are likely to see an increase in applications for technologies such as carbon capture and storage. It is likely that applicants may take longer to gather the information for such applications, so a staged submission of this information may be more appropriate.

In keeping with points 5.12 and 5.13 of Defra’s Core Guidance we have agreed a staged application procedure for this case. 

What is the process?

The staged application process allows information to be submitted in stages prior to us deciding on whether the application can be duly made. An application is duly made when we have all the information we need to start looking at all the documents in detail.

How long will it take?

We anticipate that we will have received all necessary information by spring/summer 2023.

Consultation

There will be an opportunity to have your say.

When will the consultation take place?

We will consult when we have the all the information which we, as the regulator, need to make a determination.

What will we do?

When we consult on the application, it will be published on GOV.UK.

This will explain:

We recognise that this application is of high public interest (HPI) and, in addition to our usual public consultation process, we will advertise the application in newspaper(s) and take other steps in accordance with our published guidance on HPI applications: Environmental permits: when and how we consult - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

We will keep updating this web page as we receive new information so please keep checking back. We hope that this is helpful in making information easier for you to access.

Audiences

  • Businesses
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Environment Agency colleagues

Interests

  • Business and industry
  • Habitats and wildlife
  • Permits
  • Installation