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Environmental permits for dry cleaning

Dry cleaning uses chemicals, such as perchloroethylene (perc), which contribute to air pollution and can be harmful to human health.

To operate a dry cleaning machine, you need to have an environmental permit from your local council.

This is a legal document which allows an operator of a dry cleaning machine to emit air pollution, but with strict controls in place. Operating without a permit is an offence with a maximum penalty of £50,000 or 5 years’ imprisonment.

Apply for a dry cleaning environmental permit

Complete the form below and send it to us with a cheque for the appropriate fee to London Borough of Hackney.

We will inspect your premises and may request further information from you to make sure that you will be able to comply with the permit. If any works need to be done before you start dry cleaning, they will need to be done before we issue the permit.

Fees and costs

There is a one-time application fee and an annual subsistence fee. See resources for local authorities, including details of the application fee and an annual subsistence fee, on Defra.

The annual fee you pay depends on the risk rating (for example low, medium or high risk) we assign your dry cleaning operation. The risk rating is dependent on you fulfilling the requirements of your environmental permit, running a smooth operation and not causing a nuisance to your neighbours.

Complying with the permit

Your environmental permit will outline all the requirements for compliance. You must use less than one litre of perc for every 80kg of clothes cleaned.

You need to keep accurate records of the weight (in kilograms) of each load cleaned and how much solvent (perc) you use. These values need to be recorded on weekly, monthly and annual inventory sheets, which will you have to submit to us each year:

Do I need to buy a new dry cleaning machine?

You will only need to upgrade your machine if it can’t comply with your environmental permit. Generally, it will be harder to meet the requirements with an older machine.

There are now dry cleaning machines that do not require the use of solvents and so do not require an environmental permit.  If you are looking to replace an existing dry cleaning machine, you may want to consider changing to such a machine.

Do receiving shops without a dry cleaning machine need a permit?

No. Please let us know if you do not have a machine on your premises so we can keep our records up to date.

Close down a dry cleaning operation

If you are closing down your shop, you need to complete the form below, write a cheque for the appropriate fee to London Borough of Hackney and send both to us.

Make changes to a dry cleaning operation

If you are getting a new dry cleaning machine, changing its position, changing any ventilation arrangements, or other activities covered by your permit, you need to let us know. Complete the form below, write a cheque for the appropriate fee to London Borough of Hackney and send both to us.

Transfer a permit to someone else

If you are selling your business, you need to complete the transfer form, below, and send it to us. There are sections in the form that both parties need to complete. There is no fee if it is a full transfer, but if you are only transferring part of the permit then there is a fee.

If the business has already been sold, we will try to be flexible so that a transfer may be completed. If the previous owner is no longer available to complete their part of the form, you will need to apply for a new permit.

Page updated on: 5 July 2019

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