Competence Management System

The Competence Management System, developed by Energy & Utility Skills, and approved by Defra and the Welsh Government, is a technical scheme that enables operators to demonstrate technically competent management of their permitted activities.

COVID-19 update

Due to the current situation, on site visits for surveillance and auditing purposes may not be possible.

As such, Energy & Utility Skills as scheme owners, has advised that, where possible, remote auditing for the Competence Management System is permitted. All Operators will, therefore, be able to undertake a surveillance schedule which continues to demonstrate an effective CMS and compliance with the technical competence requirements.

Please note:

The CMS does not require a named technically competent manager per site, however, a management representative should be available to deal with any issues that may have an impact on compliance with the conditions of an environmental permit.

There is also no requirement to log site attendance time as it is a holistic approach and recognises that all employees on a site contribute to the overall performance of the site.

The Competence Management System (CMS) is a scheme for technical competence approved by DEFRA and Welsh Government and recognised by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.

It specifically requires an Operator to:

  • demonstrate how it trains and deploys competent people on permitted sites operations
  • identify the competences required and determine the processes and resources required to achieve them
  • ensure that planned, unplanned and emergency situations must be considered when implementing a CMS.

A CMS recognises that all employees on a site contribute to the overall performance of the site and employees’ competence is maintained in real time so they remain current for their roles.

It is audited and certificated by accredited Certification Bodies and this includes regular surveillance audits by them to ensure the CMS remains effective.


Developed with leading waste management, recycling and water organisations across the UK, and the Environmental Services Association, the Competence Management System is a cost-effective way to demonstrate technical competence in order to manage and comply with environmental permits.

The scheme is based on the recognition that the individual competence of all employees contributes to the overall performance of a site. It can be used by any company, from any industry, that is required to demonstrate technical competence for their environmental permit.

The Competence Management System, which is approved by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), the Welsh Government the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales is based on the principles a Management System e.g. ISO14001, ISO9001.

Energy & Utility Skills, Chief Executive, Nick Ellins:

“The Competence Management System is quickly being adopted by the infrastructure asset businesses as an optimal way to ensure that competence is embedded right across their organisation, and the subject is kept live and continually reviewed rather than just checked every few years. The approach is proving cost efficient and ensures that subject of technical competence is fully owned by the operator, and not left to the judgement and skills of specific individuals”.

What is it for?

The Competence Management System:

  • A condition of an environmental permit or waste management licence requires operators to demonstrate technical competence
  • The Competence Management System provides a solution to comply with this condition
  • Enables operators to demonstrate technical competence of their licensed activities
  • Recognised by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales
  • It is a company approach
  • Is suitable for any size of company and any licensed activity
  • Can be a standalone system or can complement existing management systems (e.g. ISO14001)

What are the Benefits?

The Competence Management System:

  • Removes reliance on specific individuals, who could become unavailable due to sickness and holidays or leave the business, and maintains business operational continuity regardless of individual staff member issues
  • Increases staff awareness of environmental issues and permit requirements and applies increased awareness of emergency situations thereby potentially reducing incident response time and risk of site downtime
  • Satisfies the competence condition of your environmental permit in a proactive business focused manner
  • Proves your business operates responsibly through building in business resilience by establishing robust systems, demonstrating you have processes in place to avoid permit breaches and associated reputational risk
  • Bespoke to your organisation and recognises investment in training across the whole business rather than a single individual
  • Employees undergo training that is relevant to their roles, doesn’t require a formal qualification
  • Creates competence awareness across the whole permitted operation, improving standards and efficiency
  • Can be integrated with existing management systems such as ISO9001 and 14001, reducing costs and delivering whole business improvements
  • Facilitates identification of skills gaps and assists in the development of operational consistency across different sites whilst demonstrating the organisation’s commitment to skills, employee development and competence
  • Continuing competence is ongoing rather than scheduled every 2 years
  • No calculation of attendance levels/site diary requirement

Accreditation and Legislation

The system is accredited by UKAS, the UK’s National Accreditation Body and is being rapidly adopted as an industry benchmark.

Following a consultation with the UK government, legislation has been introduced to require all applicable waste facilities to have a written management and technical competence conditions applied.

Technical Competence Requirements are outlined here

If you have an environmental permit (or waste management licence) for a waste operation, or certain installations, you may use the following government approved scheme – Competence Management System (CMS):

  • The Energy & Utility Sector Skills Council – a scheme run jointly by Energy & Utility Skills and the Environmental Services Association (ESA)

The CMS scheme considers the competence of your business as a whole. To join this scheme you need to have a competence management system in place and this must be certified by one of the scheme’s approval bodies.

Scheme Approval Bodies

Only Certification Bodies accredited by UKAS to ISO/IEC 17021-1: 2015 for the Competence Management Standard are recognised by Energy & Utility Skills as Scheme Approved Bodies.

If you would like to get involved with the Competent Management System, whether as an operator or certification body, please contact Denise McGlynn.

Scheme Approved Bodies below:

Frequently Asked Questions

A list of FAQ’s (For environmental permitting) can be downloaded here.

  • How long does certification last for?

Certificates are valid for three years, surveillance visits are required every 12 months

  • Is there a named technically competent manager per site?

No, however a management representative should be available to deal with any issues that may have an impact on compliance with the conditions of a licence

  • Is there a requirement to log site attendance time?

No, as it is an holistic approach, it does not rely on an individual spending a mandatory amount of time at site.

  • Are there specific training courses or qualifications that should be undertaken?

No, this is for each Operator to determine. It is recommended that training courses align to National Occupational Standards (NOS) or Industry standards, where available

  • Can an Operator use an EMS (ISO14001) to cover the requirements of the CMS?

No, whilst they complement each other and be audited by the same Certification Body the requirements are different for each standard and so must be certificated separately.

  • How can I check if an Operator’s Certificate is valid and current?

Each Certification Body has a process to enable the validity and scope of an Operator’s Certificate

Find Out More

To find out more about Competence Management System or request a copy of the standard, please contact us by phone on 0121 713 8255 or email