Operator Risk Appraisal (OPRA) scheme update

The Environment Agency (EA) is proposing to replace their Operator Risk Appraisal (OPRA) scheme for sites operating under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016. The EA is planning to move to a performance based approach.

The EA has been using risk appraisal systems to help it target resources at sites posing the greatest threat to the environment since the 1990s, with a more standardised scheme set up in 2002. Under the system the fees and charges a site pays for environmental regulation are linked to its risk, performance and complexity. Latest statistics show that business compliance with environmental permit conditions has improved significantly. Therefore the EA now thinks it is time to move the system from compliance to performance-based regulation.

An informal consultation was launched on 28th April 2017 to 26th May 2017 seeking views on potential attributes and criteria that can be used to assess operator performance.

The EA is planning to replace their A-F compliance bands with four descriptive bands:

  • Exemplary;
  • Expected;
  • Improvement needed; and
  • Significant improvement needed.


The new approach will allow the EA to take operator performance into account as well as the hazards of the permitted sites, which are already covered by OPRA.

The EA will use the responses from the informal consultation to help refine their initial ideas further before carrying out a formal consultation in July 2017.

The EA has also updated guidance on OPRA for EPR: Operational risk appraisal. The updates reflect the implementation of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 which came into force on 1st January 2017. The EA has also updated the OPRA for EPR: Installations spreadsheet. Link to guidance.

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