LATEST UPDATE from Natural Resources Wales – Friday 1st May 2020
This guidance applies to Wales only.
Regulatory Decision (RD) guidance on Technical Competent Management is provided below:
Technical Competent Manager attendance during COVID-19 restrictions
We understand that many operators will be concerned about how they can satisfy attendance requirements whilst sites are running on reduced staffing levels and staff may well be ill or self-isolating. We will be pragmatic in our approach.
- There is still a requirement to have a technically competent person as a requirement of the permit.
- The TCM attendance hours are within the guidance on GOV.UK and they are an indication that site activities are in being overseen by a technically competent manager.
- Review their training and capability structure to ensure roles, responsibilities and accident plans are in place and reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
- Ensure that remote systems are operational. Alarm systems where required, are fully operational.
- Have a responsive duty roster to respond to incidents.
- Notify us where the site cannot be safely monitored.
- Where the TCM (s) is self-isolating and not sick, every effort should be made to attempt “virtual” support to the site through teleconferencing or video links. This input, duration and method of communication must be recorded in the site diary.
- Where the TCM is unable to support communications in self-isolation or is sick every effort should be made to identify a suitable replacement TCM. Record if their current nominated TCM(s) are self-isolating/sick in the site diary.
- Where the TCM is self-isolating or sick (and cannot attend the site) and no TCM cover available. The operator should be able and capable of operating the plant or site safely through both their EMS and operations training using other competent staff for the short time the TCM is unavailable.
Where there has been an inability to make alternative arrangements and a breach of the permit condition occurs then NRW will record the breach on a CAR report and suspend the score.
The following will only apply to an operator who currently complies with the primary qualification and continued competence requirements prior to 16th March 2020.
Continued Technical Competence
In view of Pearson VUE test centres now being closed, Continuing Competence tests are not currently available and until the current Government’s advice changes, we will not regard the failure to complete a continuing competence assessment that became due after 16 March 2020 as being a failure to comply with the CIWM/WAMITAB Operator Competence scheme. There will be a requirement to demonstrate you have registered with WAMITAB to undertake this test. If this applies to you or your TCM, please contact both NRW and WAMITAB as soon as possible to let us know. WAMITAB are keeping a log of those who have contacted them. NRW will be checking this list.
Where an application for a permit is made and continued competence was due after 16 March, we won’t take that as a failure to prove technical competence and we will determine the application as per normal. There will be a requirement to demonstrate you have registered with WAMITAB to undertake this test and already have the relevant primary qualifications that align with the type of facility you are making an application for.
It is expected that your test is re-booked as soon as the centres re-open.
Where a permit already exists and obtaining continued competence is not possible. The details will be noted on a compliance assessment report, scored but that score held in suspension.
There is the risk to the operator who fails to achieve continued competence following lifting of restrictions on gaining qualification that that operator will be in breach of the permit or this may delay permit issue. In this instance the operator will be expected to provide replacement TCM cover to remain compliant.
Environmental Permitting Operator Certificate (EPOC)
Where an operator is relying on the EPOC for permit application or for lower tier risk sites (per WAMITAB tiers). The inability to provide the EPOC for qualification for new permit application or low tier risk sites will not prevent permit application processing.
NRW will continue to process permit applications without the EPOCs providing the applicant is registered with an intent to complete the EPOC.
There will a requirement to demonstrate that you have registered with the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and that you provide this proof on a permit application. NRW will check validity with CIWM.
Operator will have to endeavour to resolve this as soon as possible following availability of EPOC Courses.
There is the risk to the applicant that if a permit is issued and the applicant fails to achieve the EPOC qualification following lifting of restrictions that that operator will be in breach of the permit.