Construction Projects Potentially Delayed by Licensing Requirements


A recent regulatory change in licensing requirements could lead to delays in large and small construction projects across Scotland if businesses are not aware of it. From January 1st this year, construction projects larger than four hectares or longer than 5 km are obliged to obtain a ‘Complex License’.

The same licence requirements apply to sites with ground of more than one hectare or length greater than 500 metres with a slope in excess of 25 degrees. The more immediate concern however, is that the licence approval from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) can take up to four months and the work must not commence before the approval.

“As outlined in these regulations, projects are now obliged to apply for a complex licence, should they meet the criteria. They will have to compile information regarding surface water movement, the volumes of surface flow and discharge points, what will be used to treat the water and agree water quality standards that will be achieved. All this information is required before they can even apply for a licence,” said Simon Knott, managing director of environmental consultancy Naturally Compliant.

“Then there will be months of waiting to see if the application is successful. According to the information seen, not a spade can be turned until the licence application is successful. My concern is that many firms are unaware of just how great an impact the new regime could have on their programming. We are also waiting to see how developers react to the changes and whether they will apply for the licence prior to awarding contracts,” he added.

The licence requires a named person or company responsible for securing compliance to the licence and then a Pollution Prevention Plan will have to be agreed with SEPA as part of the licence, while the cost of application will be between £1000 and £2000.

“Construction professionals need to be aware now of the cost and time implications this could have for their companies and they should seek expert guidance to help mitigate the more damaging potential effects,” concluded Simon Knott.


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BDC 309 : Oct 2023