The draft National Policy Statement for Hazardous Waste - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Contents

1  Introduction

The Planning Act 2008 and National Policy Statements

1. The Planning Act 2008 introduced a new, streamlined planning regime for certain nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs). Under the new regime, applications for development consent for NSIPs would be dealt with by a new body, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC). In considering applications, the IPC would be guided by National Policy Statements, which set out Government policy on the need for such infrastructure and the principles that the IPC should apply when deciding whether to grant development consent.

2. The Localism Act 2011 contains provisions to abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission.[1] Once these provisions come into effect, the IPC will be replaced by a Major Infrastructure Planning Unit (MIPU) which will sit within the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG).[2] National Policy Statements will continue to be the framework for decision-making on proposed NSIPs, but the final decision on whether to grant development consent will be taken by Ministers. This report refers to the IPC as the decision-maker throughout, but our recommendations will apply equally to the new decision-making process set out in the Localism Act.

3. Defra published the draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for Hazardous Waste for consultation on 14 July 2011. Once finalised, this NPS will form the basis of the IPC's consideration of applications for large scale hazardous waste infrastructure. The draft NPS was accompanied by an Appraisal of Sustainability, Habitats Regulations Assessment, Equality Impact Assessment and Impact Assessment. The consultation ran for 14 weeks and Defra received 29 responses, the majority of which were submitted after we had concluded our oral evidence sessions. We were able to consider the consultation responses as part of our inquiry.

4. The Planning Act 2008 provides for Parliamentary Scrutiny of a draft National Policy Statement.[3] On 14 July we announced our inquiry and invited written evidence from interested parties. We held three oral evidence sessions during September and October 2011. We are grateful to those who participated in our inquiry.

5. Until recently, Standing Orders required Committees scrutinising draft National Policy Statements to report to the House no later than 39 days before the end of the "relevant period" for Parliamentary Scrutiny (this date is set by the Secretary of State when laying the draft NPS before Parliament).[4] This requirement has caused some difficulties for Committees, as the time constraints of conducting an inquiry and producing a report have usually required oral evidence sessions to be concluded before the Committee has had an opportunity to consider all of the responses to the Department's consultation. We are pleased to note that during the course of this inquiry an amendment to the relevant Standing Order has been agreed which removes the requirement to report 39 days before the end of the relevant period.[5] This amendment took place some time after we had concluded oral evidence sessions and so we were not able to benefit from its provisions in our scrutiny of this draft NPS, but we welcome the increased flexibility that it will provide for the future scrutiny of draft National Policy Statements.

Hazardous Waste

6. The draft NPS describes Hazardous Waste as waste that contains one or more hazardous properties that may cause harm to human health or the environment.[6] Some of this waste consists of everyday items such as computer monitors, televisions and refrigerators; other types of hazardous waste include asbestos, oil, acids and some batteries. The European Waste List, maintained by the European Commission, provides definitive guidance on which types of waste are deemed to be hazardous. [7]

7. Approximately 4.8 million tonnes of hazardous waste were produced in England and Wales in 2008[8] and the amount of hazardous waste produced ("arisings") is expected to increase in future as the European Commission takes an increasingly precautionary approach to the classification of hazardous waste.[9]


8. In the UK, waste management policy is underpinned by the European Union's Waste Framework Directive (WFD), which applies to both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.[10] A key principle of the WFD is the waste hierarchy, which lists five steps to be applied to the management of waste. In order of desirability, these steps are prevention, preparation for reuse, recycling, other recovery (including energy recovery), and disposal (with landfill considered the least desirable form of disposal). Member States are expected to take steps to move the management of waste up the waste hierarchy. Article 16 of the WFD sets out the "self-sufficiency principle" (that the EU and eventually individual Member States should become self-sufficient in waste disposal) and the "proximity principle" (that waste should be disposed of in proximity to where it is produced, where practical).

9. In March 2010 Defra published its Strategy For Hazardous Waste Management in England ("the 2010 Strategy") which was conceived "to underpin the practical application of the revised Waste Framework Directive and in particular the requirements that apply to hazardous waste in relation to the waste hierarchy, the treatment of hazardous waste, and the provision of infrastructure".[11] The Strategy identified that new hazardous waste infrastructure would be required if the policy goals of the WFD were to be met.[12]

1   Localism Act 2011, section 128 Back

2   Department for Communities and Local Government, Major infrastructure planning reform: Work plan, December 2010 Back

3   Planning Act 2008, section 9 Back

4   Standing Order 152H Back

5   Votes and Proceedings, 30 November 2011, p 1052 Back

6   Draft NPS, p 8, para 2.2.1 Back

7   Commission Decision 2000/532/EC Back

8   Draft NPS, p 8, para 2.2.2 Back

9   Draft NPS, p 14, para 3.27 Back

10   European Parliament and Council Directive 2008/98/EC on waste and repealing certain Directives Back

11   Defra, A Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management in England, March 2010, p 4, para 1 Back

12   Ibid, p 5, para 7 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 14 December 2011