Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Permits for burning waste

Permits for burning waste

What you must do

If you burn waste as a fuel on your site to produce energy or steam in a generator, furnace or boiler you may need a permit from:

  • the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) or your district council
  • the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

See the page in this guideline on permits for burning waste.

The Waste Incineration Directive (WID) applies to the burning of waste in a technical unit. Although any sort of container, eg a drum, could potentially be described as a technical unit, under the WID the phrase 'technical unit' is used for more sophisticated and complex forms of thermal treatment. The WID does not apply to units which burn only exempt waste - such as some vegetable waste, clean wood waste and animal carcasses. See the page in this guideline on exemptions for burning waste.

In Northern Ireland waste may be burned in several different types of devices. The NIEA or your district council will consider each type of device used to burn waste on a case-by-case basis.

Incineration plant

An incineration plant is any stationary or mobile plant or equipment used for the thermal treatment of waste, whether or not the heat generated from combustion is recovered.

Thermal treatment processes include pyrolysis, gasification or plasma processes where substances produced by the treatment are then incinerated.

Co-incineration plant

A co-incineration plant is any stationary or mobile plant that burns waste mainly to generate energy or produce a material product. The plant either:

  • uses waste as a regular or additional fuel
  • thermally treats waste to dispose of it

Wastes used in a co-incineration plant include:

  • tyres
  • secondary liquid fuels - oils, non-halogenated and halogenated solvents, organic acids, glycols, distillation residues, solvent-based inks, paints, adhesives, organic mixtures, viscous organic liquids, toxic solvents, organic sludges, amines and alkali

Small waste oil burners (SWOBs)

If you operate a SWOB you need a WID-compliant pollution prevention and control (PPC) Part A permit.

Drum incinerators

A drum incinerator that does not fall under the definition of a 'technical unit' is not subject to the WID. However, if you use a drum incinerator you may have to register it as an exempt activity. See the page in this guideline: Exemptions for burning waste.

Open burning

Bonfires and open burning are not subject to the WID, but you may need a waste management licence or a waste exemption and you must not cause a nuisance or pollution. See the page in this guideline: Controls on burning waste in the open.

Air curtain incinerators (ACIs)

You can only use ACIs to burn waste that is not subject to the WID. ACIs are also known as air curtain destructors, air curtain burners or air burners.

Regardless of the type of waste being burned, an ACI capable of burning more than 1 tonne per hour requires a Part A (mobile plant) permit. In most cases the use of an ACI would not be considered the best available techniques so a permit may not be granted.

What you must do

In most circumstances you need a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit, waste management licence or a registered waste exemption for burning waste. You must have the correct permits, licences or exemptions in place before you burn waste.

Most activities that involve burning waste are subject to the Waste Incineration Directive (WID). Even if the WID does not apply to your plant, you may still require a PPC permit or waste management licence if the capacity of the plant exceeds set limits, or a registered waste exemption.

In Northern Ireland, depending on the capacity of your plant and whether you are burning hazardous or non-hazardous waste, your permit will be from either the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) or your district council.

Your plant may also need to comply with other legal requirements, such as the Animal By-Products (ABP) Regulations.

Burning waste in a WID plant

If you burn waste that is subject to the WID, you must have a WID-compliant Part A PPC permit for your incinerator. See the page in this guideline on requirements of the Waste Incineration Directive.

Your permit will list the types and quantities of waste that you are allowed to burn. It will also include operating conditions, emission limits and monitoring requirements. You must comply with the conditions of your permit.

Burning non-hazardous waste in a plant excluded from the WID

If you incinerate non-hazardous waste in a plant that is excluded from the WID, which has the capacity to burn no more than 50 kilograms per hour, your activity may be covered by a paragraph 29 waste exemption. See the page in this guide on exemptions for burning waste. If you cannot meet the requirements of the exemption you must have a PPC permit or waste management licence.

If you incinerate non-hazardous waste in a plant that is excluded from the WID on premises which have the capacity to burn between 50 kilograms and 1 tonne per hour, you will need:

  • a Part C PPC permit in Northern Ireland
  • Part B PPC permit in Scotland.

If you incinerate non-hazardous waste in a plant that is excluded from the WID, which has the capacity to burn 1 tonne or more per hour, you may need a Part A PPC permit.

Burning hazardous/special waste in a plant excluded from the WID

If you incinerate hazardous/special waste in a plant that is excluded from the WID, regardless of the quantities or capacities involved, you will need a Part A PPC permit.

Burning waste gases

If you incinerate gaseous compounds containing halogens (other than incidentally when burning solid or liquid waste) you will need a Part A PPC permit. You also need a Part A PPC permit to burn gaseous compounds containing nitrogen and sulphur.

Other parts of your PPC permit or waste management licence covering combustion activities may apply to your plant.

Burning waste in the open

You must not burn waste in the open unless you have a waste management licence or a registered waste exemption. You must not burn waste material that produces dark smoke. See the page in this guideline: Controls on burning waste in the open.

Incinerating animal carcasses

Your incinerator is excluded from the WID if it burns only whole animal carcasses, parts of animal carcasses that have been cut up for ease of transport or to make incineration easier, or unprocessed parts of carcasses. If it is excluded from the WID you will not need a WID-compliant permit. However, you may still require a PPC permit or a waste management licence, depending on the size of the activity.

In Northern Ireland if your incinerator burns only animal carcasses, and has a capacity of:

  • less than 50 kilograms per hour and a net rated thermal input of less than 0.3 megawatts, you may qualify for a paragraph 29 exemption from waste management licensing
  • between 50 kilograms and 1 tonne per hour and less than 10 tonnes per day, you need a Part C PPC permit
  • more than 1 tonne per hour or more than 10 tonnes per day you require a Part A PPC permit.

In Scotland if your incinerator burns only animal carcasses, and has a capacity of:

  • less than 50 kilograms per hour, you may qualify for a waste exemption
  • between 50 kilograms per hour and 1 tonne per hour and less than 10 tonnes per day, you need a Part B PPC permit
  • more than 10 tonnes per day you need a Part A PPC permit.

If you are incinerating animal carcasses along with other types of waste, the WID may apply and so you may need a WID-compliant permit.

If you have an on-farm incinerator burning only whole carcasses, you must meet specific standards set out under ABP legislation and the incinerator must be approved by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Northern Ireland or by Animal Health in Scotland.

DAERA: Northern Ireland: Animal by-products incinerator approval forms

Animal Health Scotland: Animal by-products incinerator approval form

If you are incinerating carcasses along with other types of waste you will need a PPC permit, waste management licence, or you may qualify for a paragraph 29 waste exemption. You will also need the relevant ABP authorisation from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Northern Ireland or Animal Health in Scotland.

If you have a WID-compliant permit you do not need a separate ABP authorisation from DARD or Animal Health.

Return to Burning waste landing page

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Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms