Competence Management System

Introduction of Version 5 Competence Management System (CMS) standard

A revised CMS standard, ie Version 5, is being launched on 9 September 2021. This updates and replaces the current Version 4 standard (April 2015). Certification bodies currently delivering the Version 4 standard, companies with accredited certification against the Version 4 standard and all newcomers to CMS are required to operate in relation to the Version 5 standard. Click here for details of the Implementation of Competence Management System (CMS) Standard Version 5 and you can purchase the revised standard from the online shop.

The CMS standard has been updated to reflect the requirements for management system standards. These requirements include a high-level structure, identical core text, and common terms with core definitions, designed to benefit users implementing multiple management system standards. The new version is aligned with Annex SL, which makes it more compatible with other management systems standards like ISO 9001, ISO14001, and makes the integration even easier.


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 in England by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency, in Wales by the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales, in Northern Ireland by Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and in Scotland by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is based on the principles a Management System e.g. ISO14001, ISO9001.

Energy & Utility Skills, Client Manager – Water, Waste Management & Recycling, Denise McGlynn:

“The Competence Management System is an holistic approach for demonstrating technical competence and recognises a company’s investment in skills and training across the whole business, rather than in one individual. It provides as an optimal way to ensure that competence is embedded in an  organisation and is continually reviewed.

It is flexible and can be tailored to suit the requirements of any organisation, regardless of size or permitted activities and is proving to be a cost-effective approach that creates competence awareness across the organisation, improving standards and efficiency”.

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 in England by the Environment Agency (England), in Wales by Natural Resources Wales and in Scotland by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
  • 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 745 1310 or email

If you have any other queries relating to EUSR, please contact the EUSR Support team. We are available Monday – Friday, 8.00am – 5.00pm via email or tel: 0121 745 1310.