Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Letter from Biffa Waste Services Ltd to the Environment Agency 24 May 2001


  At a recent ICER meeting Maria Nolan from the DETR basically suggested that an effective framework for enforcement would be developed once industry had invested in the necessary equipment to reprocess fridges which offend the Ozone Depleting Substances Regulations. She also referred to the ambiguity in the regulations in classifying CFCs in foams in the same context as CFCs in the fluid coolant pipes. On the other hand companies like us and others in the industry are in no position to gain Board support for what amounts to a £10 million investment programme without a guarantee of a clear enforcement strategy as far as free riders are concerned—particularly those that come in the form of open access to car fragmentation plants. Personally I believe this nitpicking on the regulations is a total irrelevance given the overall objective to limit emissions which are contributing to a problem which many believe is far more immediate than that of global warming.

  We are not, anyway, in a position to make any decision to invest in plants until the Agency is able to crystallise its thinking on the compliance performance standards required—in much the same way as your recent admirable piece of work on tyres in cement kilns. With this in mind I have written to Jim Currie—who I bumped into at the recent St Andrew's Awards Ceremony (also attended by Jacquie McGlade, Sara Parkin and Gareth Wardell). Can I therefore suggest a gentle nudge for agreement on the draft specification we have forwarded as a basis for action. The lead time on obtaining the necessary planning consents and licensing consents needed to trigger a decision to purchase are now almost certain to overrun the available six months we have prior to the directive requirements being formalised into the Environmental Protection Act as UK law.

  An alternative interpretation is that we are going to miss the deadlines and thus open ourselves up to prosecution by the EC enforcement team. Having raised this issue formally five months ago we believe it is only reasonable to expect positive movement sooner rather than later. We are desperate to make the necessary applications for planning and licensing consent but we can't make a decision on the type specification on the equipment until you tell us what the standards are. Help!

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Prepared 25 April 2002