Customer story: Environment Agency, UK

Permitting And Licensing Process
'screenshot of 'Environment Agency, UK
'screenshot of 'Environment Agency, UK

Environmental permits and licensing

The UK's Environment Agency (EA) is a large non-departmental public body (NDPB) with responsibility for protecting and enhancing England's natural environment. With more than 11,000 staff and care of some 13 million hectares of land, it is a substantial and complex operation.

One of the EA's most vital and frequently-used services is its control of environmental permits and licensing. Whenever an individual citizen, private company or public body wishes to take an action that could affect air, land or water quality, they must first be granted a permit by the EA. These Environmental Permits are one of the principal means by which the EA regulates the quality of England's natural environment.

Citizens and organisations typically need to apply to the EA to seek permits or licenses for matters such as:

  • waste disposal
  • resource extraction
  • undertaking restricted activities

Standardising feedback at scale

A mandatory stage of most permit and licensing processes is 'seeking public comment' – opening up a permit application to feedback from those it might affect. This can range from individuals raising concerns about potential impacts on their property to industry bodies registering objections about a proposed technology or process. The EA has to run hundreds of these environmental permit consultations every year.

Since 2017, the EA has used Citizen Space to run all of its environmental permit consultations online, through a single, central, standardised system. Citizen Space allows the EA to manage all of its permit consultation activity in one place – greatly increasing efficiency and providing a consistent, user-friendly interface to the public.

Fantastic results

Adopting this system for consulting on permits and licensing has made the process more convenient for both the EA and respondents. Now, EA staff can run all their permit consultations from one master template, drastically reducing the administrative work involved. And it has opened up new possibilities, too: for instance, when consulting on the revised permit for Sellafield Ltd (a multi-function nuclear site in Cumbria), EA were able to use Citizen Space's response publishing tools to make to make people's comments publicly visible where consent was given. This marked a significant step forward in their transparency efforts.

By using Citizen Space, the Environment Agency has saved time and money, streamlined its internal processes and created space for innovation in its public engagement activity – making it more efficient than ever to gather feedback on environmental permits.

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