The Planning Act 2008 and National
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
2. The Localism Act 2011 contains provisions to abolish
the Infrastructure Planning Commission.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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. Approximately 4.8 million tonnes of hazardous
waste were produced in England and Wales in 2008
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
LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY BACKGROUND
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.
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
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
The Strategy identified that new hazardous waste infrastructure
would be required if the policy goals of the WFD were to be met.
1 Localism Act 2011, section 128 Back
Department for Communities and Local Government, Major infrastructure
planning reform: Work plan, December 2010 Back
Planning Act 2008, section 9 Back
Standing Order 152H Back
Votes and Proceedings, 30 November 2011, p 1052 Back
Draft NPS, p 8, para 2.2.1 Back
Commission Decision 2000/532/EC Back
Draft NPS, p 8, para 2.2.2 Back
Draft NPS, p 14, para 3.27 Back
European Parliament and Council Directive 2008/98/EC on waste
and repealing certain Directives Back
Defra, A Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management in England,
March 2010, p 4, para 1 Back
Ibid, p 5, para 7 Back