The Environment Agency (EA) has updated a raft of pollution monitoring standards and opens consultation on revised public participation in permitting.

Emissions to air, land and water are regulated under European and UK laws, to protect the environment and human health. Businesses that need to comply with these laws will need permission from the EA to operate.

MCERTS revisions

This permission usually comes in the form of a permit, which requires businesses to monitor their emissions. The EA established its Monitoring Certification Scheme (MCERTS) to ensure emissions monitoring and verification meet high-quality environmental standards.

The MCERTS scheme provides for the product certification of instruments, the competency certification of personnel and the accreditation of laboratories based on international standards. Related national and international documents setting out the standards and format of various sampling, testing and verification processes change over time and require the EA to update its MCERTS.

The latest MCERTS revisions are designed to ensure compatibility with revisions to the international standard, ISO/IEC 17025 General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories.

These include:

MCERTS: Performance Standard for Laboratories Undertaking Chemical Testing of Soil — this document details the requirements for a laboratory undertaking the chemical testing of soil and the procurer of analytical services to the MCERTS performance standard.

MCERTS: Radioanalytical Testing of Environmental and Waste Waters — MCERTS performance standard is for laboratories undertaking radioanalytical testing of water.

MCERTS: Performance Standard for Laboratories Undertaking Chemical Testing of Soil – A Brief Guide for Procurers of Analytical Services — This document outlines the MCERTS requirements for chemical analysis results submitted to the EA for regulatory purposes.

MCERTS: Performance Standard for Organisations Undertaking Sampling and Chemical Testing of Water — Part 1 — sampling and chemical testing of untreated sewage, treated sewage effluents and trade effluents.

MCERTS: Performance Standard for Laboratories Testing Samples from Stack Emissions Monitoring — How to analyse samples taken to monitor pollution released from chimney stacks.

Organisations accredited to the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS), to carry out MCERTS-related testing are detailed here.

Public participation

As part of the process, the EA is also consulting on revisions to its public participation statement, which currently explains when and how it consult on permit applications and standard rules for environmental permits. Proposed revisions include:

  • refining the contents so one can find the information you need quickly

  • including a list things they consider when they decide if an application is of “high public interest”

  • including when and how they consult on permit applications for:

    • flood risk activities

    • medium combustion plant

    • specified generators.

The EA is inviting responses from businesses that have an interest in when and how it consults on permit applications or standard rules. Further details are available here.

Last reviewed 8 January 2019