Quality Protocol


Coal ash, may be used in ‘Bound’ or ‘Unbound’ applications. Bound refers to the use of coal ash in concrete, blocks and bricks. Unbound applications are projects where coal ash is used as a direct aggregate, such as embankment development or other engineering projects. In both case, they are subject to regulations.


As part of the European Waste Framework Directive (WFD), the UKQAA, Joint Environmental Programme (JEP), Energy UK, WRAP and the Environment Agency (in England and Wales), have agreed a protocol for the use of coal ash in bound applications.

Launched in 2010, the Quality Protocol for PFA & FBA (England & Wales and Northern Ireland) defines an agreed set of criteria for when coal ash ceases to be waste and can be used in building materials – without the necessity of obtaining waste exemptions and licences. This protocol not only ensures material produced during the combustion process at coal-fired power stations can be recovered and used for construction but ensures that coal ash products are compliant with strict industry standards and regulation controls.

The Environment Agency published a Regulatory Position Statement (RPS 108) – ‘Civil engineering activities involving grouts or other media for the purpose of sealing or ground stabilisation’ (see link below). This general document outlines how grouts may be used without the need for an environmental permit, but notes the requirement for waste protocols and gives the Quality Protocol for PFA & FBA as an example.

For information on specific applications for bound coal ash products which meet the Quality Protocol, please see our Technical Guidance page, Best Practice Guides and the UKQAA brochure.


The Environment Agency published a Regulatory Position Statement (RPS 172)‘The regulation of the use of unbound pulverised fuel ash and furnace bottom ash’ (see link below). This document explains how to use ash in unbound applications without having to apply for licences and permits in England and Wales.If you’d like to find out more about the Quality Protocol or Regulatory Position Statements please visit the Environment Agency’s website for the latest information.

Please note that the above regulation does not apply in Scotland due to the differences in Scottish law and the interpretation by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). Further information on SEPA’s approach to classifying coal ash can be found at