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Sustainable Waste Management

The Minister for the Environment and Agri-environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): My right hon. Friend, the Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill), and I are today publishing four consultation papers on waste strategies and planning which aim to provide a more integrated and effective framework in England for delivering the significant expansion in new waste management facilities needed to meet EU obligations and national policy.

The Government's vision for waste, embodying the principles of sustainable development, is to protect the environment and human health by producing less waste and using it as a resource wherever possible. In particular, this means reducing reliance on landfill. The way we handle waste has to change dramatically. This means a major change in our attitude to waste: manufacturers, consumers, waste managers and central and local government alike. And it means a step change in waste management, including significant new investment in waste plant.

The Government do not underestimate the size of the task. Some waste streams, such as household waste, continue to grow, driven by consumer demand and economic growth. Other waste streams, and treatment routes, are subject to increasingly rigorous controls and standards to reduce their harmfulness. And manufacturers are increasingly required to take responsibility for the treatment or disposal of products at the end of their life.

Central Government have responsibility for setting the policy and legislative framework. Regional planning bodies and local government have responsibility for generating the strategies and plans which guide delivery of those policies through provision of the infrastructure and services needed on the ground. The process depends vitally on long term municipal waste management strategies and development plans which together identify the amount of waste, how it will be managed and the facilities needed, and ensure their adequate and timely provision.
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The consultation sets out proposals for a stronger, simpler and more integrated framework for delivering those outcomes. The suite of papers are:

The Government expects all local authorities either to produce or contribute to the development or revision of a municipal waste management strategy. In some areas this is a statutory requirement. The new guidance on municipal waste management strategies replaces the guidance published by the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions in 2001. It aims to provide greater clarity on the Government's waste management objectives and decision making principles, the role of the strategies and the key requirements for developing and reviewing them. It also emphasises the need for achieving best value through both partnership working with other local authorities and the private and community sectors.

The planning system is pivotal to the adequate and timely provision of the new facilities needed for all types of waste. In revising existing planning guidance, the aim is to provide clarity on what is required regionally and locally to ensure that decisions are made at the most appropriate level and at the right time. The Government expect development plans to be up-to-date and fit for purpose. And waste planning authorities should plan for, and consent, the necessary number and range of facilities to support sustainable waste management.

Both documents will:

The review of the effectiveness of the existing guidance, which informed the preparation of the consultation papers, included the underpinning decision-making principles set out in waste strategy 2000 1 in response to concerns expressed by a number of stakeholders. The proposed changes to waste strategy 2000 are set out in full in the third consultation paper and are incorporated in the draft planning policy statement PPS10 and draft guidance on municipal waste management strategies.

The key objective of waste policy of moving waste management up the waste hierarchy 2 has not changed.

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Municipal waste management strategies and spatial plans must also ensure the delivery of the objectives of proximity of waste disposal laid down in the EU waste framework directive and of self sufficiency. These objectives are now incorporated in the objectives which must be delivered through municipal waste management strategies and development plans. Decisions on planning applications must be in line with the objectives and planning strategy in the relevant development plan. Hitherto proximity and self sufficiency had been set down as stand alone principles in waste strategy 2000. They have also been re-formulated to reflect the obligations on local authorities: to provide a framework in which communities take more responsibility for their own waste (self-sufficiency), and that waste should be disposed of as near as possible to the place of production (proximity).

The role of the best practicable environmental option process in decision-making was also reviewed. The process encapsulates important principles including consultation, option appraisal, assessing long and short term environmental impacts and cost effectiveness. These remain valid and are reflected in EU and UK legislation and its implementation.

In spatial planning, regional spatial strategies and local development documents are now required to have a strategic environmental assessment, while a broader sustainability appraisal—covering additionally social and economic issues—is required by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. These assessments, combined with the duty to have regard to national Government objectives and guidance in preparing and implementing waste plans, will deliver the principles that underpin the best practical environmental option process. The new planning policy statement 10 does not, therefore, include best practical environmental option.

Similarly, the role that the best practical environmental option played in the development of municipal waste management strategies has been replaced by the requirement for a strategic environmental assessment combined with a thorough evaluation of social and economic factors.

The draft planning policy statement 10 includes a requirement for regional spatial strategies to take account of periodic Government advice on waste arisings and recycling potential and any nationally identified need for waste management facilities. The purpose of central Government advice would be to encourage regional planning bodies to take a consistent approach to forecasting and monitoring waste arisings and the proportion of waste that can realistically be recycled. The fourth consultation paper sets out the possible scope of such advice and the options for drawing it up and disseminating it.

The material in these consultation papers is intended to support delivery of the Government's vision for sustainable waste management by providing a clearer, consistent, and integrated policy framework for local authority municipal waste management strategies and spatial planning.

Not collecting or managing waste is not an option. Everyone has a role to play: manufacturers, waste managers, local communities and the authorities which serve them. These papers aim to help all those involved take their share of responsibility for reducing and managing waste.
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Export Licence Application (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Denis MacShane): In September 2004 the Government issued a licence for the export of ballistic body armour vests to the Ministry of Security in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Ministry of Security requires the vests for the State Information and Protection Agency (SIPA). SIPA is responsible for, inter alia, diplomatic protection, which includes the British embassy in Sarajevo as well as the mission of EU partners and other allies; tackling organised crime; and investigating war crimes.

An EU arms embargo has been in place against Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1996. The purpose of the embargo was to aid the establishment of peace and
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stability for the people of the region, taking into account in particular the need to ensure the safety of international troops and civilian personnel deployed. The embargo was amended in 1999 to exclude de-mining equipment and the transfer of small arms to the police.

We fully support the EU embargo. However, we are, in limited circumstances, prepared to make exemptions where denying an export would frustrate the purposes of the embargo. The UK has been active in encouraging Bosnia and Herzegovina to take greater responsibility for maintaining the rule of law and strengthening civilian policing. I am confident that granting this exception is fully consistent with this responsible approach of supporting the development of civilian policing while respecting the aims of the embargo.