What is Environmental Protection License?
The Environmental Protection License (EPL) is a regulatory/legal tool under the provisions of the National Environmental Act No: 47 of 1980 amended by Acts No 56 of 1988 and No 53 of 2000.
Objectives of the Environmental Protection Licence (EPL)
• To prevent or/and minimizes the discharge or deposition or emission of toxic pollutants or waste into the environment from prescribed activities/ industries. Ensures compliance with environmental standards, encourages pollution prevention, waste minimization and cleaner production, and promotes planning and development of industries in an environmentally sustainable manner.
To develop an approach to pollution control that considers discharges from prescribed activities /(industrial) processes to all media (air, water, land) in the context of the effect on the environment.
If the performance of prescribed activity/ industry met this objective considerably, then the licensing authority will decide to issue the EPL.
Standards and Criteria
Section 23 A of the National Environmental Act (NEA) explicitly states that no person shall carry out any prescribed activity except under the authority of an EPL and in accordance with such standards and other criteria as may be prescribed under the Act.
Wastewater Discharge Standards
The standards for discharge of wastewater into the environment are published in the Gazette Notification No. 2264/17 dated 27.01.2022.
• Tolerance limits for the discharge of wastewater or effluent into Marine Waters.
• Tolerance limit for the discharge of wastewater or effluents into Coastal Waters.
• Tolerance limits for the discharge of wastewater or effluent into Inland Surface Waters.
• Tolerance limits for the discharge of wastewater or effluent on land for agriculture purposes.
• Tolerance limit for the discharge leachates in respect of either solid waste or hazardous waste landfill into either Inland Surface Waters, Coastal Water or both.
• Tolerance limits for the discharge of wastewater or effluent into public sewer network, connected either to a common treatment plant or a sea outfall or a combination of both.
National Environmental (Noise Control) Regulations
Standards were also gazetted for the control of noise emissions from industries by the Gazette Notification No. 924/12 dated 23.05.1996 termed as National Environmental (Noise Control)Regulations 1996 .
Interim standards on vibration control
Interim standards on vibration control are being imposed on the following vibration causing activities until such time the final vibration control standards are gazetted.
Interim standards for vibration of the Oparation of Mechinery, Construction Activities and Vehicle Movements Traffic.
Interim standards on Air Blast Over Pressure and Ground Vibration for Blasting Activities
Standas for Inconvenience of the occupants in buildings
The CEA may by a direction impose more stringent standards and criteria than those stipulated at present in respect of any particular industry, operation or process, having regard to the need to protect the receiving environment.
Procedure on Issuing EPL for Industrial Activities
Prescribed industrial Activities
Industries and activities which required an EPL are listed in Gazette Notification No 2264/18 dated 27.01.2022. Industries are classified under 4 lists i.e. List "A","B" ,"C" and “D” depending on their pollution potential.
Part "A" comprises of 33 significantly high polluting industrial activities, Part "B" comprises of 71 numbers of high polluting industrial activities and Part "C" comprises of 56 numbers of medium polluting industrial activities.
EPL for industries in lists "A", “B” and “C” have to be obtained from the relevant Provincial Offices or District Offices of the CEA.
Part "D" comprises of 39 low polluting industrial activities which have been delegated to Local Government Authorities, namely Municipal Councils, Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas. EPL for the industries in List "D" has to be obtained from the respective Local Authorities. The Local Authorities carry out issuing of EPLs and related functions such as follow up, monitoring and law enforcement.
Validity Period of an EPL
• Prescribed industrial activities coming under List A-Maximum of one year from the effective date of the License.
• Prescribed industrial activities coming under List B-Maximum of one years from effective date of the License.
• Prescribed industrial activities coming under List C-Maximum of two years from the effective date of the License
• Prescribed industrial activities coming under List D-Maximum of three years from the effective date of the License
Procedure on issuing EPL for industrial activities in List “A”, “B”, “C” and “D”
Procedure on issuing EPL for Non BOI industrial activities in List “A”, “B”, “C”and“D”
Environmental Protection Licenses for industries in List “A” , list “B” and list “C” in Gazette Notification No:2264/18 dated 27.01.2022 is issued by the relevant Provincial/District offices of the CEA while Environmental Protection Licenses for in the List “D” is issued by the relevant Local Authority.
Issuing of EPL for the industrial activities in the List "D" was delegated to the Local Authorities (Municipal Council, Urban Council, and Pradeshiya Sabha) with effect from 27.02.2022
Under mentioned procedure is applied, when issuing an EPL for industrial activities in the List "D".
EPL Application Procedure
EPL application is published in the Form A of the schedule II of the Gazette Notification No. 1534/18 dated 01.02.2008.The application form could be obtained from CEA Head office, provincial office and district office. It could be downloaded from CEA web site.
Duly filled application with following supporting documents shall be submitted for each prescribed activity to the relevant Provincial Office / District Office of the CEA or relevant Local Authority 30 days prior to the commencement of the prescribed activity/ industry.
1. Copy of the Business Registration (If the activity is registered)
2. Legal authorization to use the land for the particular industrial activity. (Copy of deed, copy of the Lease agreement of the land etc.)
3. Copy of Survey Plan of the land.
4. Legal approvals for establishing the particular industry at the site. (Certificate of Conformity/Building plan approval /Trade License or Consent paper from relevant LA)
5. Production Certificate necessary for specific products. (Distilleries, medicinal products, pesticide manufacturing etc.)
6. Proposal for pollutant abatement.
7. Road map showing the main landmarks from the nearest town.
8. Any other detail/document requested by the Authority
Relevant Provincial/ District office of the CEA or Local Authority will pre-evaluate to check the relevancy of issuing the EPL, the adequacy of the details furnished and to determine the inspection fee to be requested.
Determination and payment of inspection fee
Based on the details furnished by the industrialist, the relevant Provincial/District Office or Local Authority decides the amount of the inspection fee to be paid and a written request will be made to the industrialist. At present minimum amount is Rs: 3472.22 and maximum amount is Rs: 23009.26 (Without government approved tax)
The industrialist has to make such payment to the relevant Provincial/District Office, Head Office of CEA or Local Authority. After the payment is made the receipt should be submitted to the relevant Provincial/District Office or Local Authority.
Field Inspection, Inspection Report with Recommendations
Once the receipt of inspection fee is received, a team of officers will carry out a field inspection in order to assess the data furnished in the application with respect to the industry and to decide the possibility to operate such industry with controlling pollution.
Inspection team will prepare a report based on the field inspection details regarding the industry, technical reports provided by the applicant and social aspects along with their recommendations.
For industries in List “A” , list “B” and list “C”
If the site is recommended proceed to next step.
If the recommendation suggested requesting a proposal for additional pollution control measures, (the industrialists can consult reputed Consultants / Specialist) the industrialist will be informed to fulfill such request. Decision to issue the EPL will be made based on the evaluation of the additional details provided by the applicant. Proceed to next step.
If it is decided to refuse issuing of the license, the applicant will be informed accordingly.
According to the provisions of the National Environmental Act, any applicant for a license who is aggrieved by the refusal by the Authority to grant a license may within thirty (30) days, after the date of notification of such decision to him/her, appeal in writing against such decision, to the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment.
For industries in List “D”
The report that is prepared by the Inspection team is submitted to the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC). The committee is appointed by the respective Local Authority. Responsibility of the TEC is to advise Local Authority in subject of licensing procedure. Divisional Environmental Officer or Environmental Officer of the Provincial/ District office of the CEA who are assigned to the respective Local Authority area functions as the Secretary to the TEC.
Technical Evaluation Committee
The TEC make their recommendation based on the report that is received from the Inspection team and other relevant documents related to the industry.
The TEC may decide to carry out a field inspection by them; the next step will be taken based on the inspection report of the TEC.
If the recommendations of the TEC suggested requesting proposal for additional pollution control measures; the industrialist will be informed to fulfill such request and proceed for issuance of EPL will bedecided based on the evaluation of the additional reports provided by the applicant.
If the TEC recommends refusing granting EPL the applicant will be informed accordingly. According to the provisions of the National Environmental Act, any applicant for a license who is aggrieved by the refusal by the Local Authority to grant a license, may within thirty (30) days, after the date of notification of such decision to him/her, appeal in writing against such decision, could be forwarded to the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment.
Approval for issuing EPL
For industries in List “A” , list “B” and list “C” Authorized officers of the CEA grant approval for issuing of EPL based on the recommendation made by the inspection team and then Legal Division of the CEA grant legal approval for the draft conditions of the EPL.
For industries in List “D”, Authorized person of the Local Authority grants approval for issuing of EPL based on the recommendations made by the inspection team and TEC.
Payment of License Fee
Once the legal approval is granted; the industrialist is requested to pay the License Fee so as to enable the CEA or Local Authority to issue an EPL for the industrial activity.
a. Details of License Fee and validity period of an EPL(Without government approved tax) except the mining activities in list ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’.
1. Industrial activities in List A - Rs: 15,000.00 per License / for not more than 01 (one) year
2. Industrial activities in List B - Rs:-10,000.00 per License/for not more than 01(one) year.
3. Industrial activities in List C - Rs. 4,000.00 per License/for not more than 02(two) years. (Payable in 02 installments)
4. Industrial activities in List D - Rs. 4,500.00 per License/for not more than 03 (three) years. (Payable in 02 installments)
b. EPL fee and validity period of an EPL for Mining Activities in List ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’.(According to the Cabinet Decision of Extraction of Geological Resources for development priorities dated 12.10.2021)
1. Industrial activities in List A - Rs: 45,000.00 per License / for not more than 03 (three) years.
2. Industrial activities in List B - Rs: 30,000.00 per License/for not more than 03(three) years.
3. Industrial activities in List C - Rs. 6,000.00 per License/for not more than 03(three) years.
Once the licence fee is paid, the licence will be issued with the signature of the authorized signatory for a period of time not more than the period as specified in the gazette. (List "A"- one year; Lists "B" – one year, List “C”- two years and List “D”- three years).
Procedure on Renewing of Environmental Protection Licence
Procedure on Renewing of Environmental Protection Licence for Non BOI industrial activities in List "A”, List"B" List "C"and List "D”,
EPL Renewal applications published in Gazette notification No.1534/18 of 01/02/2008. Duly filled application shall be submitted for each prescribed activity to relevant Provincial Office / District Office of the CEA or Local Authority;
1. Before three months prior to the date of expiry of the EPL.
2. Before one month effecting any changes alterations or extensions to the activity.
1. A team of officers of CEA or L/A will carry out a field inspection to ascertain whether the conditions stipulated by the previous EPL are violated.
2. The applicant/industrialist will be informed to have relevant pollution control measures if the violation of conditions observed.
3. Minimum inspection fee is Rs. 3472.22 and maximum is Rs. 23009.26. (Without government approved tax) If EPL renewal application submitted three months prior to the expiry date of existing EPL, It should be charged 50% of the inspection fee.
Payment of Licence fee
The license fee for any renewal of EPL is same as previous EPL, and the validity period of the renewal is mentioned in the licence. After the payment of the EPL fee issuing of the licence will be considered.
Initiating Legal Proceedings against industries
Legal proceedings are adopted under part IV A of the National Environmental Act when;
1. An industrial activity/ process acts in violation of any terms, conditions and standards stipulated in the licence.
2. The prescribed industries who do not obtain an Environmental Protection Licence (EPL)
3. A prescribed activity emits waste to the environment without conforming to the stipulated standards.
If the industrialist continues to violate the conditions legal action will be initiated. Legal Procedure includes following cause of actions
1. Cancellation /suspension of EPL
2. Rejection of application for EPL
3. Hearing of appeals by the secretary of the Ministry of Environment.
4. Sending Legal Notices
5. Filing Cases.