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Failure to secure a permit for any heating plant using combustion over 1MW could result in the Environment Agency (EA) taking enforcement action. Failure to comply with the Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD) could result in suspension of operations on the site or issuing fines.

The Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD) came into effect in December 2018 and applies to combustion units (such as boilers and CHPs) with thermal inputs above 1MW and up to 50MW. It is regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) Units and intends to control emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and dust.

New plant, i.e. installed at or after 20th December 2018, must have a permit in place before commissioning can take place. Existing plant has more time to secure a permit (although if the thermal input is greater than 5MW this could be as soon as January 2024). Plant with thermal inputs less than 1MW are exempt.

Securing a permit is done via an application process carried out by the operator or by an agent, consultant or contractor on their behalf.

Engagement with the EA is recommended from design stage whilst the application is progressed. It should be submitted as early as possible because the applicant must consider the time taken to complete the application as well as the determination time, which depends on the EA. More complex projects, and particularly where there is proximity to natural habitats, can result in longer determination times.