Select Committee on European Union Thirteenth Report

Letter and memorandum from The Rt Hon Michael Meacher MP, Minister for the Environment, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Your letter of 15 June lifting the scrutiny reserve on the proposed waste incineration directive also kindly provided the text of the Report on Sub-Committee C's enquiry into the proposal and invited a Government response.

  I now enclose a Memorandum which is the Government's formal response to the report as published on 22 July. As the Memorandum observes, the Committee is to be congratulated on its thorough and helpful report. This represents a valuable input to the preparation of our final waste strategy. I note that the report is to be put to your House for debate, and I look forward to seeing the record of the proceedings in due course.

  As you will by now be aware, a political agreement towards a common position on the proposal was successfully achieved at the 24 June Environment Council. The agreed text merges the Commission's proposal with the extant Hazardous Waste Incineration Directive, thereby seeking to establish a single measure covering virtually all incineration processes and types of waste.

  The European Commission also published in July an amended waste incineration proposal as its response to the European Parliament's first reading of the original proposal. We expect, however, that negotiations will proceed solely on the basis of the text agreed at the June Environment Council.

  We are now preparing our final waste strategy document, which we expect to be published in early 2000. I understand that colleagues in Scotland and Northern Ireland intend to publish their waste strategies by the end of this year.

Memorandum from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions on Waste Incineration

  This memorandum is the Government's[4] formal response to paragraphs 70-116 in Part 3 ("Opinion of the Committee") of the House of Lords European Communities Select Committee report on waste incineration, published on 22 July 1999. The memorandum reproduces the text of the Committee's opinion, and shows responses in bold.

  The Government welcomes the Committee's views on incineration and waste management, and appreciates the thorough manner in which the enquiry was conducted.

  The Government is committed to setting tough emission standards for incinerators. Incineration processes emit a range of pollutants (several transboundary) and there need to be substantial environmental safeguards. Domestically, the UK already has tough standards across the range of incineration and co-incineration processes, and in some instances has gone beyond what is required under the 1989 municipal waste incineration directives. The Government endorses the further tightening of minimum emission standards to the levels laid down in draft waste incineration Directive agreed at the June 1999 Environment Council.

  Tackling waste management continues to be a key priority for the Government as part of progress towards sustainable development. The Government is committed to playing its part in tackling the growth in waste, achieving substantial increases in recycling, and in meeting the need for more recovery of energy from waste.



70.  A good deal of the evidence submitted in response to the original invitation was of a detailed technical nature. We recognise the importance of the technical and scientific arguments which underlie the setting of emission limit values and other standards in this field; we note that these have been the subject of extensive consultation with industry and other interest groups and of continuing negotiations in the Council Working Group. This Report therefore focuses on aspects of the proposals which raise questions about overall waste management strategy, which have major implications for the environment and human health, and which potentially affect particular sections of industry in significant ways.

  71.  We also wished to avoid commenting in detail on proposals which had, to some degree, been overtaken by events. We have been conscious of the fact that, with the coming into effect of the Amsterdam Treaty and the election of a new European Parliament, and with the proposals for consolidating and possibly further amending the waste incineration proposals, debate on the proposals—including the exact choice of limit values—is likely to resume afresh. Under the amended treaty provisions, the proposals will now be dealt with under the co-decision procedure, it seems likely that the new Parliament will wish to start afresh when the proposals come forward from the Commission, in what may well be a substantially revised form; it may in any case wish to insist on the tighter standards adopted by its predecessor.

  The publication of the Committee's opinion and its comments on waste management issues were particularly timely coming as they did during the consultation period on the Government's draft waste strategy for England and Wales A Way With Waste, which was published at the end of June 1999, and following the recent publication by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) of the parallel draft National Waste Strategy—Scotland.

  The Council of European Environment Ministers reached a political agreement towards a common position on the revised text proposed by the German Presidency of the Council at the end of June 1999. This was followed at the end of July by the publication by the European Commission of its formal response to the European Parliament's first reading of the proposal, in the form of an amended waste incineration proposal. (Explanatory Memorandum 10190/99 of 29 September 1999 comments on the amended proposal).

  It is understood that the new European Parliament is in the process of considering all the first readings inherited from its predecessor, and it remains to be seen whether or not the first reading decision will be confirmed.


  72.  The European Union's overall waste management strategy places incineration low in the "hierarchy" of options—below waste prevention, minimisation and recycling. The draft Waste Incineration Directive (we have been told) is not intended to promote incineration as a disposal option but rather to ensure that, when incineration takes place, it is properly regulated for the protection of the environment and human health; also to bring about environmental benefits through utilisation of heat. We support this role for a regulatory measure; and we also note that Commission officials see it essentially as a technical rather than a strategic proposal. Nevertheless we felt it was right to seek a clearer idea of how the proposals sat in the wider context of sustainable waste management.

  73.  In the UK, national strategies for sustainable waste management are still undergoing consultation at the devolved level. It is axiomatic that all such strategies should have among their aims the objective of laying down clear and appropriate standards, backed by transparent monitoring and enforcement, in which the public can have confidence. It is also essential, if the UK is to meet its obligations as a member of the EU, that there should be consistency between and proper co-ordination of the strategies for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  Waste strategies for all parts of the UK must comply with the requirements of Article 7 of the waste framework directive 75/442/EC (as amended), although it is a matter for each individual devolved authority to draw up its own strategy. The Government is confident that the strategies resulting from the draft waste strategy for England and Wales A Way With Waste, the draft National Waste Strategy—Scotland, (published May 1999) and the draft Waste Management Strategy for Northern Ireland (published June 1998) ("the strategies") will reflect similar strategic approaches to waste management.

  74.  It is a feature of the UK that its waste management industry is almost entirely within the private sector. This adds considerably to the complexity of achieving coherent strategies, not least because of the long pay-back periods for major investments in waste management facilities (up to 25 years). Nonetheless, the EU strategy, as expressed through existing and forthcoming Directives, imposes an obligation on and requires a national response from the UK. We are therefore concerned at the current lack of (to adapt Mr Meacher's words) sufficiently wide-ranging and potent instruments to ensure delivery of a UK-wide waste strategy. The Minister's replies to our questions on this point left us less than fully satisfied that this crucial area of public policy is capable of resolution.

  75.  We are concerned that the UK continues to fall well behind the targets which it has set itself in response to Community waste policy. The development of coherent national and local strategies has become an issue of heightened importance. Such strategies will have to review all waste arisings, disposal routes and waste management options, so as to identify the best practicable environmental options (BPEOs) nationally, regionally and locally. We see no alternative to incineration (particularly with energy recovery) as a waste treatment option in its own right, as we consider it has a necessary part to play in the waste management hierarchy. In saying this we see no contradiction with policies aimed at minimising the use of options low down in the hierarchy (ie incineration and landfill).

  76.  As we noted in our Report Sustainable Landfill of March 1998, the new Directive on Landfill of Waste, which was adopted by the Council on 26 April 1999, has the potential to create significant extra pressures for incineration if the targets for reductions in biodegradable waste going to landfill cannot be achieved by other means. Once again, we have been impressed by the arguments, for instance by Friends of the Earth, that far more should—and can—be done to minimise, recover and recycle waste. A significant increase in recycling is essential both for achieving the targets of the Landfill Directive and for minimising the requirement for new incineration plants. The UK's record on recycling stands up poorly to international comparisons and has signally failed to maintain an adequate rate of progress towards national targets proposed by the previous Government. We note the present Government's strong commitments to improved levels of recycling, and look forward to seeing elaboration of the practical measures needed for supporting and achieving them.

  77.  Waste avoidance and reduction should always be considered as a precursor to establishing the BPEO in particular situations. But application of BPEO does not mean that strict adherence to the waste management hierarchy should be automatic under all circumstances. We are concerned that the Directive does not in itself support the development of integrated strategies in which incineration with energy recovery plays an appropriate environmental, economic and social part, according to the BPEO for an area or region.

  As mentioned above, draft waste strategies together covering the UK have all been published. The draft strategies set out the strategic challenges facing waste and the principles for sustainable, integrated waste management. They also describe the instruments for achieving the major changes which will be required in waste management in the constituent parts of the UK.

  The Committee's view on scope and content will be taken into account as the strategies are finalised.

  The Government supports the Committee's conclusion on the continuing need for waste incineration. As the draft waste strategy explains, the Government's view is that there is a role for modern municipal waste incinerators—with combined heat and power, where practicable—in a system of integrated sustainable waste management.

  With regard to the Committee's concern that the proposed Directive does not in itself support the development of integrated waste strategies in which incineration has a role, the Government shares the view of the European Commission that the Directive should be seen as essentially a technical measure about the operation of, and control of emissions from, waste incineration and co-incineration plant, rather than a strategy measure. The preamble to the proposed Directive as currently proposed by the Finnish Presidency of the European Council is, however, likely to set the main body of the Directive within the context of broader waste strategy by reference in the preambular paragraphs to the Council Resolution of 24 February 1997 on a Community Strategy for waste management, and we support this.


  78.  We recognise that the emission limit values (ELVs) proposed for non-hazardous waste incineration are much stricter than, and therefore not entirely consistent with, other EU measures for the control of atmospheric emissions from thermal and combustion processes generally. It is worth noting that these limits reflect concern about pollutants formed mainly during the combustion process (dioxins, furans and NOx), rather than pollutants inherent in the combusted materials themselves. To this extent, the measures proposed are more widely applicable to other combustion processes.

  79.  We recognise that waste incinerators are not, in overall terms, the most significant sources of potentially damaging emissions that also arise from other thermal and combustion processes. Nonetheless, because of the place of incineration in the waste management hierarchy, and its importance for the implementation of the Landfill Directive, we accept that control of emissions from waste incineration should be given priority, not least to reassure the public. It follows from this that we consider it right that the practice of "co-incineration" plants should be covered by the Commission's proposals.

  80.  We consider that the long-term goal should be comparability of controls and minimum standards for all thermal and combustion processes, for all purposes, with a progressive alignment of emission limits, in order to minimise potential harm to the environment and human health. Not only is this, in our view, an essential part of a coherent strategy for global air quality improvement; there is also a growing recognition of the potential impacts of chronic exposure to low-level pollutants from combustion processes of all kinds—from road traffic and power stations as well as from cement works or waste incinerators.

  81.  Both of these considerations point to the need for harmonisation and consolidation of Directives concerned with incineration across the waste management and other combustion fields, as has been proposed by the European Parliament and the German Presidency of the Council. We do, however, share the concern, expressed to us by the Minister, that proposals of this kind should not lead to delay in the implementation of the existing Hazardous Waste Incineration Directive. For this reason we do not wish to stand in the way of political agreement at the forthcoming Environment Council meeting by maintaining a scrutiny reserve on the proposals as they have now emerged.

  Whilst the Government recognises the attractiveness of having as a long term goal comparability of controls and emission standards for all thermal and combustion processes, in its views it remains necessary that emission limits for industrial processes should be set taking account of both costs and benefits. Costs of achieving particular emission standards vary between different types of installation. Different types of installation may be open to different technical solutions—for example, what is feasible for an incinerator may not be feasible for a large combustion plant. Benefits of reducing emissions can also vary with location so that in some areas tougher requirements may be justified whereas they would not be elsewhere. It follows that the correct emission limit to set, taking account of the costs and benefits, may vary both between different types of installation and between different locations.

  Whilst, therefore, were it possible to disregard the balance between costs and benefits comparability of controls for all thermal and combustion processes would be desirable, in practice, as a general principle, the Government does not support the view that the same emission limits should necessarily be set for different industrial processes which incorporate some form of combustion. There should, however, be clear reasons, based on different assessments of costs and benefits, for any differences.

  Indicative performance standards for the various processes which fall within the scope of the new PPC system (which implements the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive) will be set out in guidance to be issued by the Environment Agency, SEPA, and the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. This will include certain waste incineration processes, and co-incineration processes such as cement kilns.


  82.  We see no conflict between the application of ELVs and BATNEEC ("best available technology not entailing excessive cost"), and indeed consider it essential that the two concepts should co-exist. Minimum emission standards are necessary both to reassure the public and to ensure a level playing-field; they should be set at the tightest practicable level consistent with BATNEEC.

  83.  With advances in technology and scientific understanding, whatever standards are set now are unlikely to last as long as the economic life of a new state-of-the-art incinerator. The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, through the IPC regime in the UK, allows emission limits to be ratcheted-up over time. It also encourages stricter limits to be set to suit particular circumstances, including the level of public concern in a particular locality. It must be recognised, however, that a regime of ever-tightening controls can be a potential threat to the commercial viability of merchant incinerators, which inevitably require major investment with lengthy pay-back periods—not least if the pace of ratcheting-up is variable and unpredictable. Regulators should plan with waste managers for the progressive implementation of new standards, at a pace to satisfy public confidence.

  84.  All emission limits, whether general or specific, must be justified on sound scientific principles and with full transparency. We find there is a lack of clear argument to justify, in human terms, the emission limits proposed in the draft Directive. Furthermore, as we discuss in paragraph 114, we are not satisfied that the UK regulators have the internal scientific capacity to evaluate health effects.

  The concepts of BATNEEC and emission limit values co-exist under Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Industrial Pollution Control (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, which established the parallel pollution control systems of IPC and LAPC. BATNEEC will be superseded under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 (and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland) by BAT (Best Available Techniques), which is broadly in line with its BATNEEC predecessor. BAT/BATNEEC is often expressed in individual authorisations as emission limit values so as not to prevent the use of more advanced and efficient techniques, or to restrict the operator's choice of means to achieve a given standard.

  Whilst supporting the need for tough emissions standards to be set for incineration, the Government's preference would be for an approach which would allow site specific matters to be taken into account. EU-wide emission limit values can be a less efficient tool for environmental control than site specific requirements in some circumstances.

  The main means by which emission limit values are tightened under Part I of the 1990 Act and the parallel Northern Ireland legislation is a four yearly review of authorisations undertaken by the regulators, and the subsequent improvement programmes operators are required to implement. Under the new Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) regime, different review periods will be set for different sectors depending on a number of factors, including sectoral investment cycles. The review period for a sector will be set in discussion with that sector, and should therefore avoid the Committee's fears of variable and unpredictable "ratcheting-up" of emissions standards.

  As mentioned above, under the new PPC regime the guidance notes being prepared by the Environment Agency, SEPA and the Department for the Environment of Northern Ireland will contain indicative BAT standards for new and existing plant, with upgrading timetables for existing plant. Under both the existing and the new regimes, however, regulators are also required to take account of a number of site specific factors which may, for example, result in tighter emission limit values being set at an individual site. To maximise transparency, regulators will be required to explain any departures from the new guidance notes.

  The Government is confident that the proposed Directive, together with subsequent adjustment of standards through the IPPC regime, will help to maintain and increase public confidence in waste incineration. The Government shares the Committee's view that the emission limit values in the proposed Directive are justified in health terms notwithstanding there are limitations to the extent of the possible assessment of health related benefits.

  The capacity of the regulators to evaluate health effects is discussed in the response to paragraph 114 below.


  85.  The definition of "waste" in the Waste Framework Directive—"any substance or object . . . which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard—is for most purposes satisfactory. In particular, following the precautionary principle, we consider that secondary liquid fuels (SLF) for co-incineration should continue, subject to the "special measures" (see paragraph 37), to be classified as wastes. The testing procedures and paperwork (which were explained to the Sub-Committee on a visit to Castle Cement's Ketton Works) are not unduly onerous, and do allow the producer to be assured of the safe treatment and destruction of the waste. The procedure should, however, be reviewed to ensure that no barriers are put in the way of continued use of SLF except those which can be justified on health and environmental grounds.

  The Government agrees with the Committee's view that SLF for co-incineration should continue to be classified as waste. As to testing procedures for SLF, the Government notes that, in respect of England and Wales, the Environment Agency has recently published a "Substitute Fuels Protocol for use on cement and lime kilns". This Protocol sets out detailed policy and practice on the testing and general regulation of the use of SLF in cement and lime kilns. The publication of the Protocol follows a substantial review of regulatory and testing procedures in this area. One of the aims of this review was to ensure that the testing procedures for SLF are justified on health and environmental grounds.

  86.  We were assured by Commission officials that the draft Directive is neutral as between co-incineration and straight incineration of waste. We are sceptical about the cement industry's claim that the draft Directive could have the perverse effect of forcing it to increase its use of more polluting, "non-waste", fuels, such as coal or coke. We do not consider that tighter regulation need necessarily outweigh normal commercial factors. In any case, technological progress in the cement industry seems likely to tip the scales even more in favour of co-incineration.

  The Government notes the scepticism of the Committee about the cement industry's claim that the emission limits proposed in the draft Directive for cement kilns which co-incinerate waste could force increased use of more polluting conventional fuels. The conclusion of consultants commissioned to undertake cost-benefit work was that the emission limits proposed in the draft Directive for co-incinerating cement kilns were reasonable, subject to the exception of the reducing number of existing wet cement kilns. There is no technically proven NOx abatement method available for such kilns, and a time-limited derogation has therefore been sought for them (as referred to in paragraph 90 of the Committee's opinion).

  87.  The UK Government has predicted for England and Wales that between 28 and 165 new waste incinerators will be needed to meet the targets of the Landfill Directive (see paragraphs 42-43). Because of the difficulties of achieving significant new investment in incineration facilities, we believe that the practice of co-incineration of selected waste streams should be encouraged, so long as it is possible to comply with the ELVs proposed for the Waste Incineration Directive. In the UK context, all opportunities should be seized for increased use of co-incineration. We fully support the Directive's stipulation that any new incinerators should recover and utilise heat, for direct use where possible (as this is more efficient) but for power generation as a minimum requirement.

  88.  The cement industry offers some particularly good opportunities for co-incineration, and can point to a number of innovative practices. Waste tyres (now to be banned from landfill) are a case in point. After maximum use has been made of processes such as re-treading or otherwise recycling the material, we consider that burning in cement kilns may often be the BPEO for disposal of tyres. Destruction is complete, and the sulphur content contributes to the formation of gypsum needed in the final product. An alternative would be incineration with heat recovery. Municipal waste incinerators are not normally designed to a specification which can safely destroy tyres, but there is good reason to suppose that investment in dedicated plant can be viable. Experience in the UK, however, is confined to a single plant (see footnote to paragraph 34).

  The Government's views on co-incineration are set out in paragraphs 4.47-4.49 of Part 2 of A Way With Waste. We agree with the view of the Committee that the co-incineration of wastes can play a valuable role. Properly regulated, this technology can recover significant value from waste, displace the use of fossil fuels and help to reduce fuel costs for businesses.

  As the Committee is aware, the Landfill Directive bans tyres from landfill from 2003 in respect of whole tyres and from 2006 in respect of shredded tyres. There is already a high tyre recovery rate, through reuse, retreading, recycling, energy recovery and landfill engineering. But in order to meet the ban, the recovery level will need to increase, and the Government considers that recovery in properly controlled cement kilns will have a key and increasing role to play. Co-incineration will be the BPEO in some cases, though the Government is keen to see other forms of recovery, including new uses eg tyre crumb in road surfaces to reduce road noise.


  89.  The control of emissions of NOx, formed by the combination of atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen during combustion, featured prominently in our enquiry. As the proportion of NOx in emission gases increases with combustion temperature, the proposed ELVs have particular implications for the cement industry. Cement kilns typically operate at temperatures above 1200oC (compared with 900-1100o for a modern municipal waste incinerator) and are therefore relatively high emitters of NOx. Thermal NOx formation increases markedly above 1400o. NOx emissions in cement kilns (expressed as NO2) typically vary between 500 and 2000 mg/Nm3.

  90.  The UK cement industry claimed in evidence to us to be disproportionately affected by the proposals. This is because of its widespread use of "wet" processes (see paragraph 50). We note, however, that the industry can accept without undue difficulty the proposed ELV of 800mg/Nm3 (which the European Parliament has reduced to 500mg/Nm3) for NOx emissions from dry kilns. We do not disagree that there should be a limited derogation (as proposed by the European Parliament) for existing wet kilns, but we have noted the Commission's view that this will be unnecessary for the new generation of kilns.

  91.  For municipal waste incinerators the proposal is for a NOx ELV of 200mg/Nm3. Currently, selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) is proving to be the primary option for NOx reduction. The Commission's current proposals do not include a limit value for ammonia, despite its use in SNCR processes. We note, however, that the European Parliament has adopted an amendment which would insert into the Directive a limit value of 10mg/m3 for ammonia. This standard is already applied by the Environment Agency in the authorisation for SELCHP, the only UK municipal incineration plant currently fitted with (SNCR), using ammonia.

  NOx is a significant air pollutant, produced by all combustion processes, including amongst other processes, transport, power generation and incineration. There is a commitment in the National Air Quality Strategy to reducing NOx levels, an EC Directive on NOx emissions was adopted this year under the Air Quality Framework Directive, and NOx is one of the pollutants included in the proposed National Emissions Ceilings Directive.

  Based on the information provided by expert consultants, the Government considers there to be no reason why the majority of processes affected by the proposed Directive should not comply with an ammonia limit of 10mg/m3.

  92.  We thought it necessary to enquire what form of life-cycle assessment (LCA) had been carried out, particularly into the power required for production of ammonia or urea used in SNCR methods (paragraph 52). Such information as we were able to obtain left us uncertain as to which options—advanced combustion technology, SNCR or catalytic reduction methods—for reducing NOx from different types of incineration and combustion plant offered the best return in terms of global reductions of NOx emissions. We recommend that the Government commission further studies on these matters and publish the results.

  93.  LCA has implications for similar decisions relating to the relative performance of different technologies for emissions reduction. It is therefore a matter for concern that decisions on ELVs are, apparently, being made without the benefit of LCA.

  94.  As a general rule, we would argue that it is preferable not to use post-combustion technology to control NOx. The evidence suggests that modern incinerators, such as the Teesside Energy from Waste Plant, are capable of operating at very near the 200mg/Nm3 limit. Depending on the results of LCA, it may still be necessary to use SNCR where there is a local need for particularly tight ELVs, but we consider that for the majority of new plant authorisations the Directive will have a beneficial technology-forcing effect and remove the need for "bolt-on" solutions. We are, in any case, concerned at the environmental, health and public safety implications of the manufacture, storage and "slippage" of ammonia in SNCR applications.

  The Government has considered the emission limits in the proposed Directive from a variety of angles including, as part of consideration of their implications over and above the standards which are existing commitments under the IPC or LAPC systems under BAT/BATNEEC, their potential environmental impacts. Deciding applications on the basis of BAT/BATNEEC is already complex and time consuming. LCA would add further complexities and delay the decision making process. The Government at present therefore is not planning any life cycle analyses in respect of NOx reduction techniques for the purposes of BAT/BATNEEC decisions, and similarly does not envisage such analyses in respect of the emission limit values proposed in the draft waste incineration directive. It is still reasonable, however, that account should be taken of life cycle analysis where feasible.

  The Government will draw to the attention of regulators the Committee's views on its preference for NOx control through process optimisation rather than post-combustion technology, and its concerns about health and safety in relation to the use of abatement techniques requiring ammonia. In the Government's view, the advantages of SNCR and SCR NOx abatement techniques outweigh the disadvantages, although process optimisation would be preferable if available.


  95.  The Commission claims that the proposals will be particularly beneficial in reducing airborne emissions of cadmium and mercury from incinerators (paragraph 10). In our view the BPEO for disposal of cadmium and mercury wastes, to the extent that they cannot be recovered and re-used, is landfill. In common with other heavy metals, they should therefore as far as possible be excluded from waste streams going to incineration. We accordingly support the proposed low ELVs for cadmium and mercury, and for heavy metals generally.

  96.  Batteries are an important, though declining, source of mercury and cadmium emissions from municipal waste incinerators in the UK. It is not normal practice in this country for special collection arrangements to be made, in order to keep batteries out of the general waste stream, although we consider that this may well be the BPEO. We note from Less Waste, More Value and from the Minister's comments in evidence that the Government is consulting industry on the implications of proposals by the Commission to amend the Batteries Directive (91/157/EEC) which would require recycling targets to be set. We recommend that, in any event, the Government take positive measures to ensure that, so far as possible, batteries do not get into the waste stream for incineration, whether on their own or as part of equipment such as mobile phones, and that re-usable materials are recovered. One possibility would be to encourage manufacturers to set up, direct or through retailers, schemes whereby returned items earn a small discount on their replacements; or simply to provide a pre-paid postal return service for spent items, as is done with printer cartridges.

  The current recycling record for automotive and consumer batteries is discussed in part two of the draft waste strategy A Way With Waste (paragraphs 7.15-7.22). In light of the expected proposal from the European Commission to revise the 1991 EC Batteries and Accumulators Directive, the Government is assessing the potential of a range of collection infrastructures to recover large quantities of spent consumer batteries from industrial, commercial and domestic sources. The Government notes that the continuing reduction in mercury levels in battery feedstock across the EC will increase the commercial viability of recycling consumer batteries.


  97.  We consider that the BPEO for disposal of bottom ash from waste incinerators may often be to immobilise the ash as construction aggregate. Our impression is that elsewhere in the EU far more bottom ash from incinerators is recycled. Concerted action is needed from the construction industry, the road-building and road-surfacing industries, and from central and local government to make more productive use of this material. We recommend that local authority waste management strategies and disposal plans contain explicit provisions to this end. These will need to be backed by the development of quality assurance schemes; and research institutes and regulators will need to define safe parameters for pollutant residues. We are encouraged by reports of pilot schemes.

  The Government agrees with the Committee that there is potentially considerable scope for incinerator bottom ash (IBA) to be used as a construction material and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is engaged in a number of initiatives to explore the scope for its greater use in construction applications. It needs, however, to be borne in mind that IBA can be a highly variable product whose characteristics depend on a number of factors including the raw feed, the rate of feed and combustion temperature. There are therefore a range of environmental and quality issues which may merit more detailed consideration. Where the use of IBA as an aggregate represents the BPEO, the Government is keen to encourage its use within the construction industry.


  98.  There are potential conflicts between the proximity principle, BPEO and market forces. There may be a case for joint investments in specialist incineration facilities, serving more than one Member State, in instances where worthwhile savings in transport costs can be made. We see no problem in principle in cross-border trade in non-hazardous wastes or partially treated wastes as fuel for merchant waste incinerators or commercial co-incineration processes within the EU and EFTA member countries.

  99.  It will be important that the new devolved administrations of the constituent countries of the UK do not set conflicting strategies. Expensive facilities such as new waste incinerators are obvious candidates for joint use across country borders or regional boundaries. Effective mechanisms for joint planning are therefore needed. Strategic planning must be responsive to regional and local waste arisings, environmental and geographical conditions, costs of transport, void capacity, recycling potential and public preferences.

  100.  We note that the Republic of Ireland—the only EU Member State with which the UK has a common land frontier—shares with the UK the problem that landfill occupies a dominant position in current waste management practice. There could be benefits from seeking joint solutions in the context of seeking cross-border arrangements. We would encourage such issues to be taken on to the agenda for the relevant cross-border institutions, including the prospective Council of the British Isles.

  Government policies on trans-border movements of waste are set out in the United Kingdom Management Plan for Exports and Imports of Waste (1996) ("the UK Plan"), which was drawn up in the context of the EU waste Shipments Regulation (EEC) No 259/93 (WSR). The UK Plan emphasises the UK's long-standing commitment to self-sufficiency in waste disposal for developed countries, as well as to the proximity principle. The general presumption is therefore against cross-border movements of waste for disposal by incineration, though there is no prohibition on movements of waste for incineration where the primary purpose is energy recovery (subject to the normal control procedures being followed if the waste is hazardous). The UK Plan nonetheless permits imports of hazardous waste for high temperature incineration from the Republic of Ireland and Portugal, on the grounds that they did not, on the evidence then available, produce sufficient wastes to justify investment in such specialised facilities.

  The UK Plan and the WSR are both approaching review and, though the Government is not minded to abandon its commitment to self-sufficiency, it will take account of the Committee's views in considering its policies.

  The Government would agree with the Committee that it is important that different administrations in the United Kingdom do not set conflicting strategies on incineration and cross-border movements. Where, however, devolved administrations have the power to make their own policies there is clearly scope for some differences. It is intended that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will each have national waste strategies, which will include broadly consistent policies on incineration; but that, subject to the future views on the devolved administrations, there may very well continue to be a single UK Plan on trans-border movements of waste. An important consideration here is that for the purposes of the EU WSR, the UK remains a single entity, so movements between constituent countries of the UK would not count as "cross-border" movements.

  The Government recognises the special circumstances which apply to cross-border co-operation on waste management between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The issue is being and will continue to be addressed in the development of waste policy, particularly in the Northern Ireland strategy and the review of the UK Plan on trans-border movements.


  101.  No reliable prediction has been provided to us of the additional incineration capacity needed across the EU in order to meet strategic waste management objectives and the requirements of the Landfill Directive. This is a key question for the UK national waste strategy. The DETR has estimated that between 28 and 165 new incinerators (over and above the 10 currently in operation) would be needed in the UK to meet the targets of the Landfill Directive (see paragraphs 42-43). In our view, this is a wholly unsatisfactory basis on which to plan. We have been offered no indication where these plants might be sited or their capacity, apart from the assumption that their average capacity would be 200,000 tonnes per year. We do not know what sources of investment funding would be available. Would existing operators in the field have the resources for such a major expansion? Or would it require public sector input, perhaps through public-private partnership (PPP) funding? We find it inconceivable that, without direct government intervention, as many as 165 plants would ever receive planning permission within the timescale required by the Directives.

  102.  As we have already suggested, a combined effort by the UK Government, the devolved national administrations, local government and the waste management industry is necessary for developing co-ordinated national and local waste strategies. Clear guidance must be provided to the waste management industry and to local government on relevant criteria for the siting of incinerators. The strategy must be supported by firmer predictions of the number of new incinerators required and by guidance on the means for identifying the geographical areas that they will need to serve, so as to inform the process of planning and public consultation at the local level. It is also essential that proper estimates are made of the resource implications for the natonal regulatory agencies and local authorities, whose inspectorates already work under considerable pressure.

  103.  With or without the present proposals, there will need to be a substantial increase in investment in incineration in order to meet the targets of the Landfill Directive. The fact that new incinerators will have to meet more stringent emission limits is not in itself a serious barrier to investment. However, robust, transparent and publicly acceptable long-term waste management strategies are essential if the private sector is to plan for the necessary investment. At present the greater obstacles lie not in the regulatory regime but in piecemeal strategic planning and lack of public commitment.

  104.  In carrying out such planning, it is critical to form reliable estimates of what is achievable through waste minimisation, recovery and recycling, and the likely rate of progress. Otherwise it will be well-nigh impossible for incinerator operators to plan new investments, since in effect they are looking for guarantees of sufficient supplies of waste to enable them to work to capacity for up to 20 years or more. Experience in Germany suggests that it is the success of recycling policies that has led to many waste incinerators now working below capacity and therefore (in commercial terms) at a loss. However, North American experience indicates that where it is part of a planned and integrated waste management strategy, waste incineration can co-exist with, and support, high recycling rates.

  The Government has modelled the additional incinerator capacity that will be required to meet the requirements of the Landfill Directive under a number of scenarios. The actual number developed will depend on a range of factors—notably the composition and growth of the waste stream and the rate of increase and coverage of recycling. Further work is being undertaken in preparation for the final version of the waste strategy for England, with a view to narrowing the expected ranges. Questions of how the new facilities are to be delivered will also be addressed in more detail. Nonetheless it will never be possible for the Government to suggest an exact number of facilities, as the mix of landfill, recycling, composting and incineration facilities is a matter for local authorities. The Government is of the view that authorities are best placed to determine the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) for waste streams in their area, in consultation with the waste management industry and local communities. In taking these decisions they will be assisted by Strategic Waste Management Assessments, to be prepared by the Environment Agency, which will set out the expected volume and nature of municipal, industrial and commercial waste arisings in each Waste Disposal Authority area.

  The facility sizes used in modelling for the strategy (200,000 tonnes and 250,000 tonnes) are purely illustrative, reflecting current average incinerator capacities. The Government expects that larger incinerators may be practicable in some regions, but that many new facilities will be smaller—for instance in rural areas. Incinerator contracts should be carefully designed to ensure that materials are not displaced from recycling.


  105.  Obtaining energy from waste incineration—whether through the provision of heat or through electricity generation or a combination of both—is a form of renewable energy (the subject of a concurrent enquiry by Sub-Committee B). There is prima facie scope for increased provision of combined heat and power (CHP) from waste incineration in the UK; we are however concerned that an over-prescriptive approach (as contemplated by the Rapporteur to the European Parliament's Environment Committee) could be counterproductive and even inhibit waste minimisation and recovery. On the other hand, without the benefits of CHP, incineration may not be the BPEO for disposing of wastes from which value cannot be found in other ways. This will however depend heavily on the siting and sizing of incineration plants, and on the level of public acceptance of plants locally.

  106.  The UK has a poor record in CHP generally. In its particular application to waste incineration, difficulties arise not least because of the problems which the private sector faces in promoting schemes in conjunction with industrial development and housing projects, whether public or private sector. The Government should give increased encouragement to the use of CHP. This, we recognise, will call for imagination and innovation. There will be scope for PPP funding, but also additional credit approvals—or even subsidies—to local housing authorities may be needed.

  With regard to CHP, the Government would disagree with the Committee's assessment of UK achievements. The UK has more than doubled its CHP capacity over the last decade. It currently stands at around 4,000 MW on over 1400 sites—broadly on course to meet the current target of 5,000 MW by the end of the year 2000. The Government is reviewing the target for future years. Meanwhile, the Government continues to encourage the take-up of CHP wherever it is economic, and works closely with industry and other stake holders to ensure there are no unnecessary barriers to its growth. CHP and community heating is promoted actively through Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme, various support programmes, and a high level marketing campaign.

  The Government encourages a variety of partnership arrangements to fund the provision of heating systems. A number of CHP/Community Heating schemes are currently being developed under long term energy services arrangements between local housing authorities and private energy companies. This approach can equally be applied to the supply of heat from Energy from Waste (EfW) schemes.

  With regard to CHP from alternative fuels, there are currently 249 MW of CHP on 134 sites. These include municipal and industrial waste (in incineration plant), landfill gas, poultry litter, sewage sludge and other bio-fuels. There are large, successful Energy from Waste (EfW) CHP/Community Heating schemes at Sheffield and Nottingham. The Sheffield scheme delivers 130,000 MW hours of heat annually to homes, offices and municipal buildings. It is a prime example of public/private partnerships in action: the City Council holds a third share in the scheme with private companies holding the remainder, levering some £22 million investment into the City since 1988. The scheme at Nottingham supplies heat and power to around 5,000 council houses and a number of commercial and public buildings.

  Another large waste-fired CHP scheme at Lerwick, in the Shetlands Isles, will be coming on line towards the end of the year. Seventy-five per cent of the 8,000 households opted to connect to the scheme.

  The SELCHP municipal waste incineration plant in South London, with which the Committee is familiar, has the capacity to supply heat from waste incineration to the local community but at present does not do so. Other such plant do, however, supply heat. Ongoing negotiations between SELCHP and Southwark Council have yet to result in the long-term heat supply contract which would justify the infrastructure investment to supply district heating to a number of Southwark housing estates. This remains a contractual issue between SELCHP and Southwark Council.

  In addition, seven proposed CHP EfW schemes totalling 70 MW received awards under round five of the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation announced in September 1998.

  A Way With Waste recognises that many more EfW schemes may be required to meet the requirements of the Landfill Directive, and states that the potential for developing new incinerators with CHP and community heating should always be considered. The draft Strategy also stresses the importance of designing and sizing energy from waste schemes sensitively, and of involving the local community fully in the planning of new waste facilities.

  107.  We were interested to be told by Commission officials that in Norway there is an established, and publicly acceptable, market for small incinerators of between 18,000 and 36,000 tonnes annual capacity for providing district heating to small rural communities. Whilst conditions in the UK will not everywhere lend themselves to such solutions, we think it is a mistake to base planning exclusively on incinerators in the 200,000 tonnes range. We recommend that the scope for investment on this smaller scale should be explored by local and central government in parallel to the planning of facilities serving larger urban or regional areas.

  The Government takes the view that, when determining BPEO, all proposals for new incineration capacity should consider the potential for CHP, in order to make the most efficient use of the available heat. The capacity of new incinerators for municipal waste will depend on local conditions and will be decided by local authorities, but the Government expects that, in many cases, capacities lower than 200,000 tonnes will be appropriate.


  108.  We have already drawn attention in paragraph 18 to the serious limitations of the Government's Regulatory and Environmental Impact Assessment and the underlying consultants' reports as far as health impacts are concerned. Whilst having some reservations about the more alarming scenarios that were put to us in evidence, we nevertheless consider it is particularly necessary to apply the precautionary principle in this field. We are satisfied that the tightening of emission limit values through the draft Directive is an appropriate response. In particular, the Commission's estimate that the proposals would have the effect of reducing incinerator emissions of dioxins and furans in the Community to less than one hundredth of their present levels is reassuring.

  The Government agrees with the Committee's view that the precautionary principle should be applied—and is by the proposed Directive—in respect of health impacts in the field of incineration. Chapter 4 of A better quality of life: a strategy for sustainable development for the United Kingdom, published by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions in May 1999, sets out the Government's interpretation of the precautionary principle.

  109.  The potential health impacts of incineration emissions have been a source of concern to a number of interest groups and to sections of the general public, particularly members of local communities concerned about the siting of new plant in their neighbourhoods. Evidence to the enquiry tended to concentrate on the generic toxicological effects of the various chemicals. No evidence, however, was supplied of any scientific proof of a direct causal link between any incineration plant in the UK and local mortality or morbidity. We are aware of a number of studies which have reported apparent clusters of different carcinogenic effects in the vicinity of particular facilities in the UK, Europe and North America, but there has been no evidence that the incinerators concerned were the cause and there has generally been considerable difficulty in isolating causal links from general environmental sources. As Professor Clayton noted, such studies have related in the main to older incinerators prior to upgrading and to others which were no longer operating.

  The study referred to by Professor Clayton is probably that of cancer incidence near municipal waste incinerators, undertaken by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU), now of Imperial College. This study did indeed relate to older incinerators and to historical exposure patterns around these incinerators. The findings showed no evidence of an excess incidence of most cancers in populations living near incinerators. Although the study found a small increase in the incidence of primary liver cancer in those living within 1 kilometre of incinerators, it is not possible to conclude that this small increase is due to emissions of pollutants from incinerators as residual socio-economic confounding cannot be excluded.

  110.  Nevertheless, when the precautionary principle is applied, we think it would be wrong to discount public concern about the health implications of incineration products (especially dioxins) on the grounds that it is derived from the experience of an older generation of municipal incinerators which the 1989 Directives have essentially done away with. Although considerable progress has been made in the understanding of the toxicology and exposure effects of many of the key pollutants, continued epidemiological work will be needed. We consider that there are well-established grounds for caution, justifying the general approach of the draft Directive. We feel that the collection and study of data on the potential health risks from combustion products should continue to be a priority. In particular, in the light of the evidence from health professionals about emissions of particles of ammonium nitrate below PM2.5, and their behaviour in the body, we welcome the further research that is being conducted in this area. At the same time we think it is important that attention should not be focused disproportionately on the health risks of incineration. There is an urgent need to improve our understanding of the health risks arising from other waste management options, including recycling, composting and landfill.

  As noted above, the Government agrees with the Committee's view that the precautionary principle should be applied in respect of health impacts in the field of incineration, and is confident that the current tight regulation of incinerators protects human health and the environment. It is a requirement of the Waste Framework Directive that such protection should underpin waste strategies, and these considerations similarly underpin UK support for the tighter emission standards proposed in the draft waste incineration proposal.

  The Government is committed to working towards achieving the sustainable development objectives outlined in A better quality of life, including protection of human health from hazards such as poor air quality. The formal appraisal of health impacts is now part of the Environmental Impact Assessment which is integrated into the planning application process for new incineration plant. The Department of Health is working with academics and others to develop robust methodology that is simple to apply for undertaking Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in policy making and decision taking at all levels of Government. A range of models is emerging with differential emphasis on the use of qualitative and quantitative data. Many examples in the UK have tended to use information from surveys of affected people rather than scientific proof of causal links between anticipated policies or projects and impacts on human health. Work is currently being undertaken to identify appropriate data sources and causal links where they exist. However, to date this information is limited and will take some considerable time to amass.

  The Government notes the Committee's welcome for the additional research currently under way in relation to PM2.5 and whether there should be a standard for it in addition to the current standard for PM10.

  Research being carried out in the Department of Health/Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Air Pollution Research Initiative is examining the effects on health of some products of combustion, including particles.

  The Government agrees with the Committee that the potential health effects of waste facilities other than incinerators must not be discounted. The Environment Agency is currently carrying out research into the health effects of other facilities, such as landfill sites, composting facilities and materials recovery facilities. The Agency has also now appointed a senior policy officer as Health Matters Co-ordinator.

  The Government recognises that there is some concern about the potential health effects of landfill sites, particularly in view of recent reports of an association between birth defects and landfill sites. To put these concerns into context, SAHSU has been commissioned to undertake projects on the known causes and geographical variations of congenital malformations. The Department of Health also earlier in the year sponsored a workshop at the Institute for Environment and Health in Leicester to consider what additional work was necessary in this area. Further to this, the Government has recently announced a new research programme on the impacts on health of landfill sites.


  111.  It has been suggested in evidence that there is a need to ensure that development control and IPC authorisation procedures consistently address the potential health impacts of proposals for new incinerators. Although risk assessments have increasingly been undertaken as part of the planning application and environmental assessment process, there is no formal encouragement to this. The Waste Incineration Directive could usefully echo the terms of the Environmental Assessment Directive, in order to make it clear that the "impacts on humans" of a proposed incinerator covers health impacts. The WI Directive should require local health impact assessments to be made for all proposed new incineration plant.

  As the Committee has recognised, the risks and the effects of new incineration plants are considered under the EC Directive relating to the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment—the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. This Directive requires an assessment to be carried out for most new waste incineration plant. EIA is mandatory for new installations designed solely for the incineration or chemical treatment or landfill of hazardous wastes, and also for the incineration of non hazardous wastes where capacity exceeds 100 tonnes per day. Smaller incineration plants may also require EIA.

  The scope of EIA studies under the Directive may be widely drawn. As part of the EIA study, it is expected environmental baseline studies would be carried out against which the predicted effects of the proposal would be projected. Information from these studies would provide information against which mitigation measures might be proposed and would form a basis against which their effectiveness could be monitored. It is not possible to be prescriptive about the content of any particular EIA; but in cases where waste incineration is being proposed, it is likely that the study would include the likely effects (including health) on the surrounding population. As the Committee suggested, to be effective these studies should include soil and water studies within a radius of the proposed plant and also plume dispersal studies that might predict ground level concentrations of emissions from the plant at variable distances from the incinerator.

  Since EIA is required for most new incineration plant projects and the scope of the studies can be widely drawn it appears unnecessary also to impose a similar requirement within the proposed Waste Incineration Directive.

  112.  A deficiency of the EA Directive is that it provides for no formal link between approval and post-operational environmental monitoring. To do the latter effectively, it is necessary to collect data on maximum ground level concentrations of pollutants in the environment surrounding the incinerator; stack monitoring is insufficient for this purpose. The footprint of ground level concentrations will vary from plant to plant and according to topographical and meteorological factors. We understand that SELCHP voluntarily monitor concentrations at 1 kilometre distance from the plant.

  113.  UK guidance on environmental assessment should provide clearer support to local health impact assessments, which should take into account baseline health conditions in local areas as well as prediction of health risks arising from the emissions from new incinerators. In turn we consider that all plant authorisations should require monitoring of local environmental impacts, on a case-by-case basis tailored to local circumstances.

  With regard to linkage between approval and post-operative monitoring, the purpose of environmental impact assessment is to ensure that decisions on applications for consent for projects are, so far as is possible, taken in the light of all of the likely consequences. In appropriate cases, monitoring might well be required in order to ensure that, for example, conditions attached to a planning permission are adhered to. But the principal requirements for emissions monitoring to ensure that plant operate safely and within a strict regulatory framework for the protection of human health and the environment are under IPC and LAPC authorisations (and the new PPC system which will replace them). Off-site monitoring may be desirable in some circumstances and can be required through individual authorisations. Widespread monitoring of air quality is already happening. Automatic air quality monitoring of 31 substances is now carried out for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions at 108 sites, covering both urban and rural locations, across the UK. Many local authorities also carry out their own extensive monitoring of key pollutants within their areas as part of their Local Air Quality Management functions.


  114.  We are concerned that the links between pollution control and public health management are not being systematically addressed; there is a lack of clarity over where the primary responsibility lies. The Environment Agency, SEPA and EHS (DOENI) admit that they depend on external expertise to perform their required functions in assessing the potential impacts of waste incineration on human health. Bearing in mind the agencies' responsibilities under Part 1 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and related legislation we find this disquieting. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Environment Agency and the Department of Health provides for consultation, but we were not convinced that there was an effective flow of information at the "sharp end"—ie between local staff facing actual situations on the ground. We recommend that consideration be given to introducing a statutory consultation role for the Department of Health and its counterparts.

  The Department of Health offers advice to the Environment Agency on generic issues through the Memorandum of Understanding and, if necessary, provides access to its specialist advisory committees for advice on the hazards to health of various processes or chemicals with which the Agency is unable to deal. Concerns about the health effects of individual waste incineration plant should be raised with the local health authority and dealt with at that level by both local authorities and Environment Agency staff. The Department's Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants is currently drawing up Guidelines for health authorities, local authorities and the Environment Agency based on its experience of dealing with issues of this sort on the health effects of air pollutants. This will provide local staff with a step-wise approach for handling public concerns about the health effects of air pollutants and should ensure that these are investigated both thoroughly and appropriately.

  Health authorities in England and Wales will be consulted by the Environment Agency or local authorities as part of the Pollution Prevention and Control regime, which will be phased in over the years 2000-07, and will have the opportunity to comment on any aspects about which they may have concerns in terms of the possible effects on human health. In some cases, there may be no concerns about the health impact of a particular process and no need for any direct health authority involvement.

  In the meantime, the Environment Agency's revised Substitute Fuels Protocol, which sets out the extended consultation procedure for determining applications to burn waste in cement and lime kilns under IPC, requires that local health authorities and others be consulted in addition to those listed in the current regulations. The Environment Agency's proposal for selected license applications, to be used in other contentious cases, also suggests that where the public are concerned about potential health implications, the local health authority should be involved.

  As mentioned above, the Environment Agency has also now appointed a senior policy officer as Health Matters Co-ordinator.


  115.  The proposals in the draft Waste Incineration Directive, especially if linked to the standards of the Hazardous Waste Incineration Directive, have the potential to play a significant role in reassuring the public that incineration is a safe environmental option. However, this will only happen if the public has confidence in the regulatory regime through being involved in the process of planning for new capacity, in the ongoing operation and monitoring of the facility, and in the monitoring of the surrounding environment. The availability and accessibility of environmental information, as provided by the regulators, is not a sufficient solution to public scepticism. Original figures need to be translated into readily comprehensible form, and politicians at the local, devolved and national level must show that they themselves understand the basic scientific issues, and are able to express them in terms that their constituents understand.

  The Government is confident that the regulatory systems in place set standards sufficiently tough to provide public confidence in the operation and monitoring of incineration, a position which the proposed Directive will emphasise, and that planning systems provide full involvement of local people in provision of additional incineration capacity.

  The Government supports the need for provision of information which is digestible by the layman. Although monitoring information for IPC processes is made available on public registers held at regional offices of the environment agencies and local authority offices, and for LAPC processes at the offices of the regulator, the Government recognise that this can often be difficult to access and interpret. The Environment Agency launched on its website in May 1999 its Pollution Inventory, which reports on the emissions of individual processes currently regulated under the IPC regime and their contributions to national pollution levels. The Agency are developing the Inventory to provide additional information about the sites it covers and the environmental effects of each pollutant.

  The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions also provides extensive air quality information to the public through its live reporting from its monitoring networks on teletext, and through its extensive and prize winning website.

  116.  Land-use planning constraints on the siting of new incineration capacity have the potential to lead to the choice of socially deprived and environmentally damaged areas. These tend to be areas with high existing levels of industrialisation mixed with poor quality housing. We consider that not only is there a need for sound environmental impact assessments (EIA) of proposals for new plant, but also that these should be based on strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of the national and local strategies which underpin the siting. The reluctance of successive UK Governments to pay more than lip service to the principle of SEA, including the proposed Directive of which the latest version is currently on the table, is a matter of continuing disappointment to us (although we note that a form of environmental appraisal is addressed in guidance on development plans). We recommend that the Government should now resolve to support and encourage SEA for waste policies and plans; we further recommend that both SEA and EIA should be undertaken with the fullest involvement of the public.

  The Government actively support the aims of the proposal for a Directive on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes (the "SEA Directive"). It is Government policy that environmental considerations should be incorporated into decision making processes at all levels. The UK is taking a full and constructive role in the current negotiations. The draft revised Departmental guidance, "Development Plans and Regional Planning Guidance" (PPG12), now contains specific advice on environmental appraisal of development plans.

  During the EIA process the public are given the opportunity to comment on the content of the Environmental Statement and the competent authority must take into account all relevant comments when making the decision on the EIA planning application. The proposed SEA Directive would also require public consultation.

4   Within Great Britain, policy concerning environmental protection is now devolved to the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales. Within devolved policy areas, both primary and secondary legislation may differ between different parts of the UK, even where they are implementing the same EU Directives. Back

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