Written evidence from the Environmental
Services Association (ESA) (ARSS 88)|
1. ESA is the sectoral trade association
for the United Kingdom's regulated waste and secondary resource
management industry, a sector contributing £9 billion per
annum to GDP. Our Members recover more of the value contained
in the UK's wastefor example, household recycling has quintupled
in the last decadewhilst protecting the environment and
2. An effective and efficient planning process
is required to achieve greater economic and environmental sustainability
and to enable the UK to meet its legal duties resulting from EU
laws on waste management, which in practice requires more recycling
of materials and recovery of energy from waste.
3. Defra predicts that £11 billion
investment in new waste management capacity is needed by 2020
to comply with the relevant EU laws predating the 2008 Waste Framework
Directive, a law which may necessitate even more investment.
4. Obtaining planning permission remains
the single biggest barrier to the timely delivery of new waste
management infrastructure. Of the 13 decisions taken by local
authorities on ESA Members' energy from waste (EfW) planning applications
since 2008, 10 have been refused consent: eight of those refusals
were against the recommendations of planning officers.
5. The thresholds of the Planning Act are
set too high to offer positive benefits for most applications
submitted by ESA's Members: none of the applications above would
have been large enough to benefit from determination by the proposed
Major Infrastructure Unit. In the absence of a robust strategic
planning policy framework, which guides the local decision making
process, the Government is unlikely to reverse the prevailing
trend of "planning by appeal".
6. It is perhaps symptomatic of difficulties
faced by our sector that the Select Committee's decision to initiate
an inquiry on the abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies focuses
on the implications for housing allocations.
7. Regional Spatial Strategies provide direction
and context on the urgent need for new waste management facilities
and apportion the tonnages of municipal and commercial and industrial
wastes that should be planned for, on an annual basis, by each
individual planning authority. Planning authorities are therefore
required to produce development plans which identify sites capable
of managing the amount and types of waste specified within the
Regional Spatial Strategy.
8. The apportionment figures are a key consideration
when testing submitted development plans. Regional apportionment
also provides a context for the setting of recycling targets,
identifying shortfalls in treatment capacity and driving investment
in new facilities for the treatment and recovery of waste diverted
9. The broad locations of sites suitable
for (sub-)regionally significant waste management infrastructure
(eg hazardous waste facilities) are identified in Regional Spatial
Strategies: a strategic planning function that local planning
authorities would likely lack the resources or the political will
10. It would be helpful if the Government, as
a matter of urgency, clarifies how it intends to fill the policy
vacuum created by the abolition of the Regional Spatial Strategies.
The dynamics of waste planning differ from regional housing allocations,
and whilst the preparation and adoption of Regional Spatial Strategies
has often proved to be a cumbersome, protracted and expensive
process, the principle of providing a context for strategic planning
is nonetheless sound.
11. ESA understands that the proposed National
Planning Framework is likely to incorporate the series of existing
planning policy statements and, in the absence of Regional Spatial
Strategies, will inform preparation of local authority development
12. To provide a strategic context for planning
for waste management, ESA urges the Government to review of PPS10
(planning for waste management) before it is subsumed into the
National Planning Framework. Such a review is necessary to ensure
that strategic planning policies are informed by an updated assessment
of England's waste treatment infrastructure requirements.
13. Waste planning policy must adopt a broader
focus to ensure adequate capacity is provided for the treatment
of commercial and industrial (C&I) and construction and demolition
(C&D) waste, of which 68 million and 90 million tonnes respectively
are produced each year. Waste management strategies have tended
to focus on planning for municipal waste at the expense of other
14. The National Planning Framework should offer
better co-ordination of policies for the recovery of energy from
waste (EfW) with the development of combined heat and power (CHP).
The potential benefits of integrating EfW with CHP are rarely
realised with the planning system often limiting renewable energy
facilities to sites where there is no local heat demand.
15. The waste management planning process must
be informed by robust data and expert knowledge. NPPG 10 (and
its successor, PPS10) provided the basis for the establishment
of Regional Technical Advisory Bodies (RTABs): a body within each
region comprising of technical expertise from local government
and the private sector and tasked with advising on the development
of waste policies in the Regional Spatial Strategy.
16. The future role of RTABs remains uncertain,
however, following the abolition of the regional planning tier,
it seems unlikely that this resource will continue to receive
17. Collecting and managing data on the quantity
and type of waste arisings, future trends and treatment capacity
requirements is a complex process and the data requires significant
interpretation to inform the development of policies for adoption
within local development plans. It is unlikely that this data
processing exercise and the provision of technical advice could
be conducted consistently and cost effectively if performed by
each individual planning authority.
18. ESA strongly recommends that a resource is
made available which offers local authorities strategic and technical
advice and relevant waste data to inform the preparation development
plans. Whether the principles of the RTABs could be retained in
the establishment of a new and improved body, or this resource
is provided centrally by Defra and CLG, the evidence base underpinning
strategic planning for the commercial and industrial waste stream
must be improved. The Government might assist by introducing legislation
amending the Duty of Care regulations which ensures that primary
data on commercial and industrial waste arisings are reported
directly to the Environment Agency by business waste producers.
19. The establishment of joint waste planning
authorities might encourage local authorities to engage with neighbouring
authorities and develop a strategic approach to waste planning.
Such arrangements are already in place for a number of local authorities
and enable the development of a joint plan which identifies facilities
required for the management of waste arisings and where such sites
should be located.
20. The need for better co-operation between
planning authorities is an increasingly important consideration
following the Government's proposals for a localism agenda.
A preference for small scale, local waste management facilities
would not achieve the benefits of economies of scale and would
fail to deliver the taxpayer value for money.
21. Consistency and efficiency savings could
be achieved if the Government prepared model waste policies for
inclusion within local authorities' development plans. Local authorities'
resources could then be focused on developing waste planning policies
specific to their geographic locale.
22. In an effort to address delays in the delivery
of infrastructure, the Government has committed to a presumption
in favour of sustainable development through the planning system.
ESA suggests that this should allow for expedient and efficient
approval of applications for "green infrastructure"
which conforms with the policies of an up to date development
plan, including waste recovery infrastructure as defined in the
2008 Waste Framework Directive.
23. It should be noted that the Planning and
Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 introduced a statutory duty on local
authorities to carry out a sustainability appraisal of local development
plans (and Regional Spatial Strategies). Subsequently, the waste
planning polices of a local development plan would have met the
criteria of the sustainability appraisal and there should be no
requirement for a developer, in submitting an application which
conforms with an up to date development plan, to demonstrate the
sustainability credentials of an individual scheme.