After many years of experience in Environmental Permitting, Gill Pawson comments on recent trends at the EA regarding Waste Recovery.
Our recent evidence has shown that it is becoming very difficult indeed to demonstrate that using inert waste for the restoration of mineral sites qualifies as waste recovery. Not only are new applications for Waste Recovery Permits subject to a test that requires the Waste Recovery Plan to demonstrate that the scheme would still go ahead with non-waste, but also anyone applying to vary an existing Waste Recovery Permit is required to demonstrate the same thing.
This means that virtually all restoration schemes will need to proceed under a full Landfill Environmental Permit, with all that entails i.e. requirements for monitoring, formal closure and surrender.
In the case of old mineral workings, the imposition of a Landfill Permit also brings an obligation to pay Landfill Tax for inert waste inputs, currently at a rate of £2.65 per tonne. In many parts of the country this will make the restoration work unviable.
In my view, there is a good case to lobby Government to amend the Landfill Tax exemptions to allow old mineral workings to be exempt from the Tax. If you are interested in helping me to carry out such lobbying, please get in touch.
Also, I am aware that new guidance on this matter is soon to be issued by the Environment Agency. It will be shorter than the current guidance document and will no longer contact all of the useful annexes that describe the different circumstances in which waste recovery will apply e.g. construction of noise bunds. However, unless a waste recovery scheme fits within the parameters of a Standard Rules Permit using less than 60,000 cubic metres of material, a Bespoke Permit will be required. In the future Bespoke Permits will require engineering, monitoring, aftercare and surrender. Also, this presupposes that you are able to demonstrate that the project is indeed waste recovery (see my comments above). Taken together, these changes are likely to mean that there are few such permits issued in the future. Therefore, be prepared to accept a full Landfill Permit and all of its associated costs.
Gill Pawson. GP Planning Ltd. August 2016.
Should you wish to discuss Waste Recovery Permits, please get in touch with Maureen Darrie or Gill Pawson (who, despite retiring can still often be found in the office).