The inquiry looked at most elements of waste collection
including planning, financing, collection methods, joint waste
authorities, and financial incentives and charging. The Committee
itemised thirty conclusions and recommendations in their report.
This is the Government's response to those conclusions and recommendations.
The Government's response is set out in the same
order as the conclusions and recommendations in the Committee's
report. Wherever the word 'we' appears it refers to the Committee
and the paragraph numbers at the end of the recommendations refer
to paragraphs in the Committee's report.
1. We endorse the Government's clear indication
that it intends to include measures on waste among the 200 indicators
being developed for the new local government performance framework.
Given refuse collection's significance and high public profile,
we recommend that such indicators be priorities for inclusion
among the 35 'local improvement targets' identified for each authority.
The Government agrees that waste management is an
important responsibility of local government and waste indicators
are being included in the new performance framework. Under the
new performance framework each area's 35 Local Area Agreement
(LAA) improvement targets will be negotiated taking into account
local priorities and levels of performance against national priorities.
The Government will strongly encourage local authorities to consider
waste targets especially where there is a need to improve performance
in this area.
More detail on the new national indicator set to
underpin the local government performance framework is included
in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
2. We endorse the autonomy of local authorities
and recognise their expertise in implementing the best solutions
for their own areas. The problems posed by waste collection and
disposal are not, however, confined within local governmental
boundaries, and require a national response driven by a clear
vision energetically communicated from central Government. We
recommend that the Government commission research to evaluate
the best local collection, recycling, re-use and reduction schemes
operated by local authorities and to develop a strategy to encourage
their widespread adoption. (Paragraph 23)
The Government welcomes the Committee's endorsement
of the autonomy of local authorities. Giving local authorities
the freedom and flexibility to manage their interests is key to
the Government's approach to local issues. Accordingly the Government
believes that local authorities and their residents are best placed
to decide on the most appropriate waste collection and disposal
arrangements for their area, within the context of a strong national
The Government recognises that issues around waste
collection and disposal are not always confined to individual
local authorities. Common issues may be faced by a number of
local authorities and there is therefore a need for expert support
and guidance. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)
is funded by Government to conduct research into aspects of collection
systems and provide local authorities with good practice guidance
and a solid evidence base on which they can develop their own
local waste strategies.
WRAP is currently undertaking a study to determine
cost and performance ranges for different kerbside collection
schemes, taking account of different local authority contexts.
The report will include associated good practice advice and is
due to be completed in March 2008.
In order to further help local authorities reduce
the amount of waste they have to deal with and make decisions
on the most suitable strategy for their local area, WRAP is undertaking
a survey of local authorities to determine their needs for support
and advice on waste prevention/reduction initiatives, and will
put proposals to Defra for consideration as part of WRAP's new
Business Plan and programme proposals for 2008/11.
Outside the general principle of the waste hierarchy
the Government does not recommend or endorse any one waste treatment
over another. However, through WRAP and the guidance it produces,
the Government endeavours to ensure local decision makers are
as well informed as possible. WRAP's guidance draws together
the experiences of those authorities that have already introduced
new schemes and identifies good practice that authorities considering
more sustainable waste management can call upon.
3. Given the sensitivity of local opinion when
it comes to changes in the ways refuse is collected, we recommend
that the Government develop clear, straightforward best practice
guidance on information provision to householders, using examples
both of those local authorities that have introduced alternate
weekly collection systems without prompting local concern and
those who have, in the words of the Minister for Waste, "blundered
into introducing alternate weekly collections without proper consultation,
without proper planning". (Paragraph 31)
The Government agrees that it is essential for local
authorities to engage and consult stakeholders, particularly local
residents, in the development of local waste strategies. Defra
guidance on the development of municipal waste management strategies
stresses the importance of such engagement. This package of guidance
includes an information sheet on community and stakeholder engagement
and is available from the Defra website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/localauth/practice-guidance/index.htm.
The Government funds WRAP to encourage good practice
on collection systems and this includes advice on engagement with
residents. WRAP's revised guidance on alternate weekly collection
published in July 2007 is an example. The decision on whether
to use the guidance or take heed of the messages it contains is
a matter for local authorities. Defra always recommends local
authorities contact WRAP when considering changes to their waste
In addition through the national Recycle Now campaign
and the Behaviour Change Local Fund, WRAP provides advice and
resources to local authorities to support good quality communications.
There is good practice guidance and case studies on both the
WRAP and Recycle Now partners' websites.
4. Up to one third of food purchased is disposed
of without being eaten, perhaps the most shocking example of utter
waste revealed during our inquiry. Householders are throwing away
£400 a year. Councils are forced to waste their time and
our money clearing up our leftovers, which are often the most
problematic part of domestic waste. We recommend that Government
set specific targets for food waste reduction and follow through
on the Waste and Resources Action Programme's autumn food waste
information campaign by promoting some simple measures households
can take such as menu planning and improved storage, and by encouraging
supermarkets and other retailers to help customers avoid waste
by, for example, packaging perishable goods in sizes suitable
for both single and family households. (Paragraph 35)
The Government agrees that reducing food waste should
be a priority. The carbon emissions associated with growing,
processing, packaging, transporting and storing food which is
ultimately discarded presents a significant opportunity for everyone
to act on CO2. Food waste is a very significant proportion of
the biodegradable waste sent to landfill. Capturing that waste
for recycling or energy recovery offers further carbon benefits.
Under the new local government performance framework
each local area will be able to negotiate its own improvement
targets to reflect a balance of local and national priorities
and performance. The Government will strongly encourage local
authorities to consider waste targets, which could be for specific
materials, such as food waste, especially where there is a need
to improve performance in this area.
Under the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS)
local authorities have a strong incentive to reduce biodegradable
municipal waste (BMW) arisings, which includes food waste. Waste
disposal authorities are legally required to hold sufficient allowances
for the amount of BMW sent to landfill. Any authority that exceeds
the limit set by the allowances they hold will be penalised £150
for every tonne they are over the limit. The total number of
allowances available is limited and the Government believes this
driver together with the increasing cost of landfill is sufficient
to ensure local authorities adopt sustainable alternatives to
landfill for food waste.
Plans are progressing well for the launch of WRAP's
Food Waste Reduction Campaign in November 2007. WRAP is working
with a range of stakeholders including local authorities, retailers,
the Women's Institute and other government agencies to help promote
the campaign messages, which will include simple practical steps
that individuals can take to reduce waste.
Examples of smart packaging, which allows greater
flexibility on portioning, are starting to appear in supermarkets.
WRAP is working with retailers to stimulate further innovation
in this and in other packaging innovations which may give extended
shelf life or allow customers to choose how much of a product
they buy to match their family circumstances.
5. We recognise that research conducted to date
into the health impacts of alternate weekly collection systems
has found no evidence of adverse health impacts. Given the strength
of public concern, however, allied with the wealth of anecdotal
evidence about increased populations of flies, maggots, rats and
other vermin associated with AWC systems, we strongly recommend
that the Government commission further and more detailed research
if the public is to be persuaded that there is no appreciable
risk. (Paragraph 37)
Defra has recently published the Waste and Resources
Evidence Strategy 2007-2011 which sets out the broad base of evidence
and research needs required to support sustainable waste and resources
management policy. In developing the plans for implementing the
strategy, Defra will consider the needs for risk/exposure assessment
work in this area as well as work surrounding amenity issues where
monitoring and quantification of nuisance parameters and loss
of amenity are less well developed.
WRAP is supporting the Chartered Institute of Waste
Management in work to investigate areas of identified concern.
6. If councils are to collect food and kitchen
waste only once every two weeks as part of an AWC system, Government
guidance must stress the absolute necessity to provide householders
with sealable containers, such as hard-sided wheeled bins or boxes.
The Government agrees and can confirm that the revised
guidance, published by WRAP in July, includes this advice.
7. Food waste represents nearly a fifth of the
total household waste stream and is a particularly significant
contributor to greenhouse gases when sent to landfill. We recommend
that Government encourage more local authorities to adopt both
separate food waste collection and at least weekly food waste
collection. (Paragraph 39)
The Government strongly supports this view and has
said in its Waste Strategy that there are strong arguments for
encouraging more separate collection of food waste, especially
since it can help achieve environmental gains more cost-effectively.
Research does indicate that weekly collections are likely to
be most successful in diverting food waste from landfill and offers
the best overall environmental outcome. WRAP's latest guidance
recommends that local authorities considering moving away from
weekly collections of residual waste should consider weekly food
waste collections. The Government has asked WRAP to obtain more
evidence of the cost to local authorities of such collections.
WRAP (with funding from Defra) is supporting 17 local
authorities to undertake food waste collection trials in order
to deepen understanding of the most cost effective ways of managing
such schemes in different local environments. In all cases the
collections are weekly.
Based on the results and learning gained from the
trials WRAP will publish further good practice guidance.
WRAP will be discussing with Defra what further support
can be provided to local authorities on food waste collections
in the light of the trials.
8. We suggest that the Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs, in preparing any further legislation,
clarify the legal situation on additional charges for rubbish
sacks and that the Department learn from the knowledge those authorities
have developed of the practicality and efficacy of such systems.
Defra is in the process of writing to all local authorities
in England to clarify their responsibilities and powers under
the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in relation to waste collection.
Authorities should receive this communication during the autumn.
9. We note that the Government has set recycling
performance targets for local authorities and that the Local Government
Association argues for statutory performance targets. We endorse
the Government's devolutionary intent to allow collection authorities
as much freedom as possible to implement waste policy, but recommend
that Government enter into discussion with local authorities about
the creation of statutory targets. (Paragraph 45)
Waste indicators are being included in the new performance
framework and development of these indicators included consultation
with local authorities. The Government has no plans to create
new statutory targets.
Under the new local government performance framework
each area's 35 Local Area Agreement (LAA) improvement targets
will be negotiated to ensure a balance of local and national priorities
and performance. Government will strongly encourage local authorities
to consider waste targets where there is a need to improve performance
in this area.
10. The number of fully trained and experienced
local authority recycling officers remains low, restricting the
spread and sophistication of schemes available. The continuation
of statutory local authority recycling targets, rather than any
shift towards merely residual waste targets, would help drive
more officer training and development of greater expertise. (Paragraph
The Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme and the landfill
tax escalator, along with the economics of different waste treatment
options, will be the primary influences on local authority decisions
on waste management strategies for at least the next five years.
These ensure local authorities will need to focus attention on
all recovery levels of the waste hierarchy, including recycling,
for the foreseeable future and there will consequently be a continuing
need for training and development of expertise.
The national targets in Waste Strategy 2007 to reduce
the amount of household waste not re-used, recycled or composted
and on recycling and composting will ensure that recycling remains
a high priority for local authorities.
WRAP offers a range of training for local authority
officers. The Recycling Managers Training Course is delivered
at two levels, and training sessions are also provided on specific
issues such as waste prevention, monitoring and evaluating recycling
schemes, working with the community and design of communications
11. For a variety of historical, geographical,
economic and other reasons, practice on the collection of recyclable
materials has grown in a piecemeal, haphazard fashion across England
over the past decade and more, resulting in myriad local systems
and some public confusion. A national recycling system is clearly
not feasible in the short term, and the imposition of such a system
from the centre would run counter to the Government's proper desire
to let councils implement collection strategies suitable to their
own areas and electorates. Nonetheless, we urge the Government
to evaluate means of achieving more public understanding and co-operation
by reducing random and unnecessary differences in practice across
local authority boundaries. In particular, wider application
of WRAP's national colour-coded recycling system for paper and
card, glass, metals and food waste would give not just clarity
and simplicity, but substantial long-term economies of scale.
Increasing amounts of waste, of all the main kinds,
need to be separated at the point of collection in order to increase
its value. There has already been a considerable expansion of
kerbside recycling collection schemes. But for any given locality
decisions on the best ways to collect waste are a matter for local
authorities, with the Government's role being to set clear outcomes
and provide a strong evidence base, and give local authorities
as wide a range of tools as practicable to do the job effectively.
WRAP's work with local authorities and retailers
and evidence from local authority returns to Waste Data Flow suggest
that local authorities are starting to converge on the materials
that are commonly collected for recycling. At this time in the
development of the industry in this country this trend needs to
The Government supports the wider adoption of common
recycling iconography by local authorities so that the look and
feel of recycling activities is more common to householders wherever
they live. WRAP's Recycle Now campaign and all its supporting
materials have been designed to provide local authorities with
a flexible but cost efficient approach to communicating recycling
messages and WRAP is working with retailers to reinforce this
by encouraging common messaging about recyclability on their packaging
and in store. The Government will encourage greater take up of
WRAP's standard iconography by authorities.
The Government also believes Waste Partnerships,
Joint Waste Authorities and the advantages in two-tier areas of
all the waste collection authorities working closely with their
waste disposal authority to achieve diversion from landfill will
encourage a convergence of all aspects of the recycling services
offered, not just the iconography.
12. The adoption of alternate weekly collection
systems in around 140 local authority areas has been accompanied
in most of them by rapid and substantial increases in local recycling.
Whether there is a direct causal link between those two facts
is, however, unproven: AWC, where it has been introduced, is always
part of a package of measures aimed at encouraging householders
to sort more of their waste for recycling. AWC is clearly not
appropriate to all areas, particularly highly urban areas characterised
by much shared accommodation. Whether a weekly or alternate system
is best for a particular area is a matter of local circumstance
and a matter for local choice. (Paragraph 49)
The Government agrees it is not right to prescribe
from the centre how collection is done in different parts of the
country. That is a matter for local authorities. The evidence
does not suggest alternating collection of recyclates with residual
waste is the only way to boost recycling but equally experiences
from authorities in both the UK and abroad suggests that such
schemes can work well, and can contribute to significantly higher
recycling rates, provided they are well designed and implemented.
Government agrees that the collection of residual
waste on a less than weekly basis may not be suitable for all
circumstances. Local authorities are best placed to consider
such issues with their local stakeholders.
13. The phrase 'alternate weekly collection' is
bureaucratic and confusing, and a good example of how a potentially
effective policy can be damaged by jargonistic terminology that
is meaningless to most householders. Local councils would do
well to find more straightforward descriptions of their own local
arrangements. (Paragraph 50)
The Government agrees and encourages local authorities
to use descriptions that accurately reflect the collection systems
proposed or in place when engaging with local residents and stakeholders.
14. Our clear conclusion on collection methods
across England is that there is no single system suitable to all
authorities in all the range of local circumstances that pertain.
The Government agrees. Local authorities are best
placed to decide local waste collection arrangements in consultation
with their residents and other stakeholders. However, local authorities
are key to delivering national waste reduction targets and the
Government will continue to provide advice and support through
15. We recommend that the Government work with
the Waste and Resources Action Programme and local government
to agree a core definition of what householders should expect
from their refuse collection. This should include no complicated
rules, rubbish collected when the council says it will be and
schemes that suit every household from the largest rural home
to the most crowded urban area. (Paragraph 52)
Given the need
for authorities to reflect their local circumstances and the risk
of stifling innovation, there are limits to how far a standard
definition of what householders should expect can be produced.
However, the Government has asked WRAP to look at what constitutes
a good recycling service. It also recognised that this definition
would be necessary in its consultation paper on whether a power
to put in place incentive charging should be given to local authorities.
The statutory requirements on local authorities for
waste collection are set out in the Environmental Protection Act
1990 and it is for local authorities to determine how they carry
out their responsibilities. However, in a time of rapid change
consumers may well be confused as to what standard of service
they should expect and the government will encourage the LGA and
WRAP to see whether some common principles can be developed and
communicated to local residents.
16. Several councils have spoken of a need to
change the attitudes of residents so that they accept responsibility
for the waste they produce rather than seeing it simply as something
the council will come and clear up. If there is such a need,
the change can only come from councils themselves, implying that
they need to develop programmes to educate, inform and persuade
the public of the need to cut household waste. They have argued
that they are best placed to choose how, when and what to collect
in their local areas; the clear corollary is that they share with
central Government the responsibility for persuading their council
tax payers how to minimise waste in the first place and how to
influence retailers and others. (Paragraph 55)
The national Recycle Now campaign and associated
Behaviour Change Local Funding programme managed by WRAP have
been key in promoting behaviour change in relation to recycling.
The programmes are complementary in that the national campaign
raises awareness in general about the need to recycle and the
local programme provides funding and advice to local authorities
to help them communicate to residents what they can do at a local
level and what services they have access to.
It is recognised by WRAP that these campaigns have
to broaden in scope to include waste reduction and reuse as well
as recycling. Consequently WRAP is developing the campaign to
cover other areas such as waste minimisation and a schools programme.
It will put these proposals to Defra for possible funding in
the near future.
On behalf of the Government and local authorities
WRAP has engaged with the retailers at a national level to develop
programmes and targets for waste minimisation through the Courtauld
17. Revenue-neutral financial incentive schemes
aimed at improving local recycling will raise no money for councils
and will therefore do nothing to help them manage their waste
budgets in the face of rising costs. Indeed, since 'revenue-neutral'
does not mean 'cost-neutral', and since any scheme introduced
by a local authority will require substantial administration and
enforcement costs, they may in practice, run directly counter
to the intentions Sir Michael Lyons expressed in recommended local
charging schemes, by adding a further cost to the growing burden
local authorities must carry. (Paragraph 71)
The purpose of incentive charging is to encourage
householders to minimise waste and to recycle more. There should
therefore be disposal cost savings. This is borne out by the
international evidence on financial incentive schemes
The Government has proposed giving authorities a
power, not a duty, to introduce incentive charges. Authorities
will only do so if they feel it will be financially beneficial
in achieving their desired outcome at a lower cost than other
available options. The proposal does not therefore represent
The Government recognises the pressures faced by
local authorities arising from waste management responsibilities
and has undertaken a review of waste funding, with the close involvement
of the LGA, as part of the evidence base for the Comprehensive
The Government's recent consultation on introducing
a revenueneutral financial incentive scheme is distinct
from these discussions on waste funding. Revenue neutral schemes,
such as those proposed, are aimed at changing behaviour and are
not intended to address waste costs by providing a means to raise
extra revenue locally.
18. It is hard to see how a resident faced with
a 'financial incentive scheme' bill for even the indicative £30
contained in the Government's consultation will see it as anything
other than a charge, or a tax. (Paragraph 72)
Government is not specifying in these proposals what
the level of charge or rebate should be. Any figures in the consultation
(£30 or £50) were used as examples only. Authorities
would decide whether to introduce a financial incentive scheme
or not and they would set the level that they judge to be suitable
for the area.
The Government has not opted for a waste charge as
seen elsewhere in Europe to avoid increasing the burden upon local
residents. As such, financial incentive schemes are purely designed
to encourage behaviour change; they would not provide a new or
alternative charging system for funding waste services.
In addition, financial incentive schemes would have
to be revenue neutral - all revenue would have to be returned
to residents in full. In effect, individuals who produced less
non-recycled waste would receive a financial reward, or rebate,
paid for by those who produced more. There would be no overall
increase in local charges or taxes.
19. It is hard to see why any council will want
to set up a complicated charging scheme that earns it no money
and risks widespread public disapproval. (Paragraph 78)
For local authorities, the Government's proposals
provide a new way for authorities to work with householders on
tackling waste and reducing the need to use landfill, with its
ever-increasing environmental and economic costs. As the costs
of landfill rise, the cost savings for the local authority from
reducing the amount of waste send to landfill will also increase.
For residents, the Government's proposals include
safeguards to ensure that schemes are fair, and impacts are positive
rather than negative. There are requirements in the proposals
for a good recycling service; for authorities to take into account
the needs of groups that may potentially be disadvantaged by the
scheme; and for anti fly-tipping provisions to be in place.
Ultimately it would be up to individual authorities,
working in their community, to decide whether or not they wished
to introduce a financial incentive scheme and to design their
local scheme as best fits the local need.
20. We recommend that the Government clarify how
financial incentive schemes for recycling will interact with council
tax. We seek a detailed explanation of why the introduction of
incentive schemes should not be accompanied by reductions in council
tax. In particular, we are concerned by the suggestion that schemes
"should not" require additional funding from council
tax. Whether a local authority raises or reduces its council
tax to fund schemes or incentives to local householders is a matter
for individual councils. (Paragraph 79)
Under the Government's proposal, schemes would be
separate from Council Tax. This is because, as an incentive not
a charge, all the revenue collected by local authorities must
be returned to residents so residents as a whole will not be paying
any more. Payments in and out of the scheme do not therefore
affect the level of Council Tax.
It is not intended as a measure for authorities to
raise additional funds, in fact under the proposal they would
not be allowed to do this. Rather, financial incentive schemes
are another tool for engaging the public in waste minimization,
composting and recycling.
Authorities would have the same freedom to set Council
Tax as at present. Overall incentive schemes should lead to a
reduction in costs due to the reduction in waste for disposal.
21. The Government recognises the risk that new
financial incentive schemes to increase recycling and minimise
waste may result in more fly-tipping or in people attempting to
cut their bills by putting their rubbish in their neighbours'
bins. We are not convinced that enough work has been done or
guidance given to local authorities on how to prevent such risks
from blighting areas and causing disputes. Nor are we convinced
that local authorities already faced with increasing waste costs
will be adequately funded to deal with increased administration,
clear-up and prosecution costs. (Paragraph 89)
Evidence on charging leading to an increase in fly-tipping
is inconclusive. It remains important that all authorities crack
down on fly-tipping, regardless of whether or not they chose to
introduce an incentive scheme.
The Government would therefore encourage authorities
in the design stage to ensure that incentives and opportunities
for fly-tipping are minimised and, as suggested in the proposals,
authorities would be required to make provision to avoid fly-tipping,
littering and illegal disposal of waste. However, this is good
practice for all authorities.
The Government agrees that this requirement is important
and would need to be explained further in guidance. Any guidance
would be developed in partnership with experts and practitioners.
22. We welcome the Government's recognition that
specific groups, such as large families or those on council tax
benefit, should not be disadvantaged by the introduction of financial
incentive schemes for increased recycling and waste reduction.
The Government is pleased to receive this endorsement
from the Committee.
23. The Government needs to clarify what will
happen to householders who refuse to pay additional charges levied
under any new financial incentive scheme. Given the small sums
involved, prosecution seems an unlikely answer. Given the impact
on other householders, councils cannot be allowed not to collect
rubbish left out by non-payers. We are unconvinced that councils
possess any adequate sanction against refusal to pay and question
whether that might not substantially undermine schemes that local
authorities may wish to introduce. (Paragraph 91)
The Government accepts the key role that enforcement
plays in the successful implementation of any scheme. Under the
proposals, it is envisaged that Local Authorities would largely
be able to rely on their existing powers but Government would
need to consider this further.
Under the Government's proposal, authorities would
still be legally required to collect waste from households.
24. The financial incentive schemes proposed by
the Government offer individual householders very little reward
for good behaviour and offer councils no immediate financial incentive.
We cannot believe that giving some households £20 or £30
a year will remotely outweigh the negative psychological impact
of making other households pay more for a service they believe
they already pay for through taxation. Breaking the link with
council tax and establishing refuse collection as a utility, like
gas or sewerage, might have the radical impact the Government
say they want. The half-hearted tilt in the direction of charging
contained in their current proposals will not. (Paragraph 93)
The Government proposals are for a new behaviour-changing
instrument for local authorities. The incentive is not a charge
linked to the cost of services.
The Government has not proposed mandating a 'right'
price for the incentive and figures in the consultation were used
only as examples. Under the proposals authorities would set the
incentive at a level that they judge to be suitable to change
behaviour locally. However, evidence from overseas does suggest
that relatively low levels of charges can change household behaviour.
The Government has no plans to make waste a utility.
25. We conclude that the introduction of a power
allowing councils to form joint authorities where they wish to
do so is welcome. (Paragraph 97)
The Government welcomes the Committee's conclusion
on this. Joint waste authorities are another tool to help local
authorities deliver more cost effective waste services and potentially
reduce unnecessary variation in the standard of service provided.
26. The move towards greater joint working will
be even more welcome if it brings about cost efficiencies, an
increasing degree of shared practice and, possibly, some standardisation
of approach to collection of different recycling streams and such
things as a colour-coded system for different streams. (Paragraph
The Government believes that joint working on waste,
including through joint waste authorities, has the potential to
bring about all the things suggested by the Committee and more,
not least of which is greater diversion of biodegradable waste
27. The Government has made it clear that substantial
infrastructure development will be necessary if waste diversion
targets are to be met in the coming decades. In its coming implementation
of the proposals in its planning White Paper, the Department for
Communities and Local Government will need carefully to balance
the desire for simplification in the obtaining of planning permission
for major waste-related infrastructure projects with the objections
of local communities to new facilities, including incinerators,
desired by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
to boost energy-from-waste production from its current 10 per
cent to 25 per cent. (Paragraph 102)
Planning policy on waste management was substantially
revised in recognition that planning is pivotal to the adequate
and timely provision of the new facilities needed to meet waste
Planning Policy Statement 10: Planning for Sustainable
Waste Management is already providing a positive influence on
planning's contribution to delivering sustainable waste management
and providing more certainty for developers. However, Government
recognises that while the planning application approval rate for
waste developments is highat around 90%it is not
complacent about the planning risks associated with delivering
the waste facilities needed. For example, in August 2007 Defra's
Waste Infrastructure Delivery Programme published guidance on
improving the interaction of infrastructure promoters with waste
planning. This identified actions that will facilitate favourable
determinations of planning applications and speed the delivery
of waste infrastructure. The guidance underlines that the approach
to community engagement taken by those seeking to secure permissions
for waste infrastructure projects is critical to all stages of
both the planning process and preparation of the municipal waste
management strategies prepared by local authorities.
Government reforms for nationally significant infrastructure
projects represent a major step forward for the delivery of major
waste-related infrastructure projects, with more timely, transparent,
predictable and accountable decision-making, including greater
opportunities for public participation and engagement.
The proposals for reform set out in the white paper
Planning for a Sustainable Future (Cm 7120) will involve the public
at every stage: on the development of national policy, on project
proposals as they are being developed, and at the inquiry stage.
There will for the first time be a statutory duty on applicants
to consult communities, and better inquiry processes will make
the system more accessible to all, not just experts or those with
the deepest pockets.
Proposals to simplify the provisions governing how
planning applications are made, streamline information requirements
for applications, and reduce the burden on parties involved in
the planning process will benefit those smaller-scale developments
which will be decided under the Town and Country Planning Act.
The great majority of waste proposals will fall into this category.
The Government does not generally consider it appropriate
to express a preference for one energy recovery technology over
another, aside from encouraging local authorities and businesses
to consider anaerobic digestion. Government wants to maximise
energy recovered from unavoidable residual waste (that would otherwise
go to landfill) so as to make the greatest contribution to energy
policy. There is no specific target to increase energy recovery,
however there is a target for municipal waste recovery which includes
recycling, composting and energy recovery. The Government has
also set targets for the recycling and composting of household
waste. While Government would like to exceed both of these targets
if possible, meeting them precisely would mean an increase in
energy recovery to about 25% of municipal waste in 2020 compared
to around 10% today. Recovering energy from waste which cannot
sensibly be recycled remains a sound environmental objective.
Many other European countries have shown that a vigorous energy
from waste policy is compatible with high recycling rates. Defra
research shows that recovering energy from residual waste (including
by incineration) is a much better option than landfill.
28. Those authorities that decide to invest in
producing more energy from waste will need to develop strategies
to send only unrecyclable material for incineration and to use
the flexibility in the Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme to trade
incineration capacity with other authorities who may otherwise
find it difficult to reduce their landfill to the extent required.
Energy from waste includes more than just incinerationthere
are other thermal treatment technologies such as gasification
and pyrolysis, as well as anaerobic digestion which is the Government's
favoured EfW technology. The Government agrees, however, that
authorities should develop strategies to avoid sending material
for EfW which would be better recycled, and that LATS affords
those who do invest in EfW of any kind the flexibility to trade
with other authorities as suggested by the Committee.
29. We recommend that the Environment Agency prioritise
the audit of London local authorities in its current waste disposal
audit programme, because of the higher-than-average proportion
of non-household waste collected and disposed of in the capital.
We recommend that the Government ensure that reported reductions
in municipal waste being sent from the capital to landfill sites
are in fact occurring. If a loophole does exist in the current
reporting requirement, it must be closed forthwith. (Paragraph
The issue of accurate waste reporting has national
implications. The Environment Agency (EA) audit programme is risk
based and guided by evidence. The EA has completed detailed audits
of seven London authorities. These have been published at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/1745440/444663/landfill/1764524/
693182/986852/1102546/1848019/?lang=_e. There is no evidence
that London boroughs are deliberately evading their reporting
responsibilities. There are however a number of lessons learnt
from the audits that will improve the consistency and quality
of future reports. The EA is in the process of publishing additional
guidance on reporting collected municipal waste.
The aim is to ensure that local authorities are left
in no doubt as to the monitoring authority's views on what should
be reported as collected municipal waste. From 2007/8 onwards
the Agency will use this guidance in the audit process.
It is the intention of the EA to conduct audit visits
to all remaining authorities over the next two years, which will
include the remaining London authorities.
30. With the bulk of England's waste far beyond
the control of local councils, we recommend that the Government
urgently investigate means of improving financial incentives to
reduce the amount of commercial, industrial and construction waste
that will otherwise continue to fill our rapidly diminishing landfill
space. We recommend the rapid roll-out of a programme of affordable
recycling services for businesses, especially small and medium-sized
enterprises. (Paragraph 113)
The Government agrees that it is important to reduce
the amount of commercial, industrial and construction waste that
is produced and currently goes to landfill. The Waste Strategy
for England 2007 sets out the Government's policies to achieve
this, including financial incentives.
The most important of these is the announcement by
the Chancellor in the Budget 2007 that the landfill tax will increase
by £8 a tonne, each year from 2008 until at least 2010/11-
doubling the tax from £24 per tonne this year to £48
per tonne in 2010/11. On the basis of this change to the landfill
tax escalator and policies set out in the Waste Strategy, the
level of commercial and industrial waste sent to landfill is expected
to fall by 20% by 2010 compared to 2004.
In Waste Strategy 2007 the Government committed to
setting a new national target for the reduction of commercial
and industrial waste going to landfill and work is already underway
to achieve this.
The strategy also includes proposals to help develop
recycling services for small and medium-sized businesses.
In April 2005 the Government indicated its intention
to regulate construction industry waste and a series of consultations
since then have informed the development of site waste management
plans (SWMP) for the construction industry. The most recent of
these, which closed in July 2007, outlined a number of current
problems surrounding the generation, treatment, and disposal of
waste from the construction industry, and set out draft regulations
to make SWMP compulsory for all construction and demolition projects
with a value exceeding £250k. The outcome of this consultation
is a clear body of support for the Government's proposal and the
analysis along with the written responses and workshop findings
will be used to inform the development of a final set of regulations
and Impact Assessment. It is hoped to introduce regulations in
April 2008 as well as supporting guidance.