This Update contains brief details of recent Government and EU publications, legislation, cases and other developments in England and Wales relevant to those interested in municipal waste management, which have been published in the past month.

Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet. All links are correct at the date of publication.

If you have been forwarded this update by a colleague and would like to receive it direct please email Claire Booth.

The following topics are covered in this update:

   Biodegradable Municipal Waste    Municipal Waste
   Environmental Impact Assessment    Permitting and Licensing
   Environmental Policy    Recycling
   Infrastructure    Waste Management
   Litter and Street Cleaning    Waste PFI


Biodegradable Municipal Waste

Environment Agency: Report on the Landfill Allowances Scheme (LAS) Wales 2010/11: this is the Agency's annual report for the Welsh Government as part of its statutory role under the Landfill Allowances Scheme Wales Regulations 2004. it covers the sixth full year (1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011) of the LAS in Wales, which aims to ensure diversion of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) from landfill by setting limits on the amount of BMW that local authorities in Wales can landfill. The Agency found that Wales has reduced the amount of BMW sent to landfill by 46% over the last six full years of the LAS. in 2010/11 Welsh local authorities sent 27% less BMW to landfill than the allowance (458,264 tonnes compared to the 2010/11 Wales allowance of 630,000 tonnes). (31 August 2011) 

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Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/1824): these regulations, which came into force on 24 August 2011, revoke and replace the 1999 EIA Regulations (SI 1999/293) as amended, which implemented the EIA Directive 85/337. They prescribe the procedures that authorities must follow when undertaking an EIA and producing an environmental statement when considering an application for development consent for any project that is likely to have significant effects on the environment. The new regulations take account of recent case law (Baker and Mellor cases) and changes to the EIA Directive 85/337. (26 July 2011)

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Environmental Policy

DEFRA: Enabling the transition to a green economy - Government and business working together: this document has been developed in response to requests from the private sector for greater clarity on what the Government means by a ‘green economy’, the policies being put in place to achieve this, and how they come together. It looks ahead to 2020 and maps out planned Government action across areas including climate change, resource efficiency, waste prevention, carbon capture and storage, offshore wind generation, and the Green Deal. It will form the basis for continuing dialogue between Government, business and communities. (5 August 2011) 

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  • Infrastructure

    SITA UK: Public attitudes to community buy-in for waste and resource infrastructure: this report looks at what residents actually think of incentives such as utility discounts to facilitate the development of new waste management facilities. The research found that offering personal benefits to those living near proposed waste management facilities would significantly increase community support for them. It concludes that the level of support for a local facility increased when a community fund was proposed and even more so when discounts were offered. It makes three recommendations: 

  • that more research is needed into the levels of community incentives; 
  • that local authorities should incorporate thinking around community incentives early on in their development plans; and 
  • that if chosen, utility discount incentives should be attributed to the property not the property owner.

(22 July 2011)

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Litter and Street Cleaning London Councils / Keep Britain Tidy: Local environmental quality in times of austerity - Prioritisation & behaviour change: this research report looks into London residents’ priorities for public services spending, focusing on where local environmental quality and related anti-social behaviour issues feature in this list. At the heart of this research project is a desire to understand how these changing priorities impact on the ways in which residents would like authority bodies to go about tackling the issues. Putting the residents in charge of their own ‘budgets’, the research explores the degree to which residents see enforcement as an acceptable source of revenue, what residents are willing to contribute towards the issues personally and what other approaches and techniques are most likely to change poor environmental behaviours and encourage people to ‘do the right thing’.

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Municipal Waste

DEFRA: Local authority collected waste for England – quarterly statistics: these provisional results summarise waste collected and managed by local authorities in England in the 12 months from January 2010 to December 2010.  They show that the proportion of local authority collected waste disposed of into landfill has decreased to 44.2% during that period. The figures are based on quarterly data submitted by local authorities to WasteDataFlow. (4 August 2011)

London Councils: Cutting waste not services: in March 2011, London Councils hosted a round table event that brought together key industry and waste authority figures to explore alternative ways to fund waste collection and disposal while maintaining service levels. The remit was to challenge ‘business as usual’ and set out workable ideas for the future approaches that could be taken in the region in response to this twin challenge of increasing demands on services and decreasing supply of resources.  This post-event report gives details of the key discussion points along with some unconventional ideas to manage London’s waste. (27 July 2011)

EEA: Waste opportunities - Past and future climate benefits from better municipal waste management in Europe: using a life-cycle perspective, this report analyses the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from municipal solid waste management in the EU, plus Norway and Switzerland. The report makes clear that better management of municipal solid waste can reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, but to tap this potential, the EU's Waste Directives must be implemented fully, in particular the Landfill Directive. Three scenarios illustrate how waste management and associated GHG emissions might develop until 2020. (29 August 2011)

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Permitting and Licensing

Environment Agency: Environmental Permitting Charging Scheme & Advice 2011-12 (revised August 2011): revised guide to the Agency's charges under the Environmental Permitting Charging Scheme effective from 1 April 2011. It covers the different types of operations that require a permit under the Environmental Permitting Regulations as well as various other charges. It explains the scheme and what charges have to be paid. It is designed to help both charge payers and its own staff and should be read in conjunction with the scheme itself. (23 August 2011)

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European Commission: Draft Commission Decision establishing rules and calculation methods for verifying compliance with the targets set in Article 11 (2) of Directive 2008/98/EC: this draft Decision proposes four options for calculating Member States' recycling rates for household and construction waste, depending on national characteristics. They will be used to verify compliance with targets set in the revised Waste Framework Directive 2008/98. (22 July 2011)

Welsh Assembly Government: Minister calls on councils to sign up to waste change programme: the Welsh Government Environment Minister John Griffiths is urging local authorities in Wales to take advantage of a new package of support to help them meet waste reduction and recycling targets. The Collaborative Change Programme will offer all Welsh councils the chance to benefit from significant additional specialist technical advice and support to help them plan for up to 15 years to show how they will meet the targets set out in Wales’ waste strategy Towards Zero Waste in the most sustainable and efficient way. (9 August 2011)

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Waste Management

WRAP: Comparing the cost of alternative waste treatment options: this is WRAP’s fourth annual Gate Fees Report. It presents a summary of gate fees for a range of waste treatment, recovery and disposal options, based on survey information from local authorities, MRF operators, compost facility operators, waste management companies and other market intelligence. It aims to disseminate information on gate fees, thereby increasing price transparency and, through improving the flow of information, enhancing the efficiency with which the waste management market operates. Providing local authorities with this market information will assist them in making informed decisions regarding waste treatment and disposal. (4 August 2011)

DEFRA: UK waste data: summarises total UK waste disposal by sector and by management method in 2004 – 2008. The figures show that total UK waste generation has decreased by 11.3% between 2004 and 2008, from 325m tonnes (mt) in 2004 to 289mt in 2008. Out of the sectors generating more than 25mt of waste per year, the Industrial and Commercial sector has seen the biggest percentage change in generation with a decline of 17.3% over the period. (4 August 2011)

Environment Agency: Draft guidance on the treatment of waste by thermal desorption: seeks views on draft guidance that applies to installations and mobile plant that undertake thermal desorption as a Part A(1) activity listed in Sch.1 to the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England & Wales) 2010. It aims to set out the additional indicative Best Available Techniques (BAT) requirements that the Agency expects regulated facilities to meet for these activities as an addendum to existing Sector Guidance Note S5.06. The consultation closes on 1 November 2011. (9 August 2011)

Welsh Assembly Government: Food waste treatment programme: outlines the background to the food waste treatment programme and explains the support available for Welsh local authorities who intend to start treating food waste by Anaerobic Digestion. (25 August 2011)

Welsh Assembly Government: Residual waste treatment programme: outlines the support available for Welsh local authorities who intend to start treating residual waste. (25 August 2011)

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Waste PFI

R (Cheshire East BC and Cheshire West & Chester BC) v Secretary of State for the Environment; HM Treasury (Interested Party) [2011] EWHC 1975 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the two councils applied for judicial review of DEFRA’s decision to withdraw £70m in PFI credits for a waste scheme. The PFI credits were originally awarded to Cheshire CC; following local government reorganisation in 2009, the functions of Cheshire CC were transferred to two new local authorities Cheshire East and Cheshire West & Chester. DEFRA confirmed that the credits would not be withdrawn as the result of the reorganisation and stated that they could either be assigned to one of the two new authorities or split between them in an agreed ratio, subject to approval of the Final Business Case (FBC). In October 2010 a draft report recommended that the £40m allocation of credits to the Cheshire project be confirmed, subject to certain conditions, and the authorities were advised that the FBC was acceptable; but they were also told that PFI credits were under review as a consequence of the Spending Review. On 14 October 2010, the authorities at full Council meetings each endorsed the recommendation of their joint waste board to appoint Viridor as the provisional preferred bidder subject to the availability of credits. On 20 October the Comprehensive Spending Review was published and the authorities were then told by letter that PFI funding would not be forthcoming for their project. The authorities contended that: the decision was Wednesbury unreasonable; they had a legitimate expectation of receiving the PFI credits; DEFRA had failed to consult, and had failed to take into account material considerations; and its methodology was flawed.
The court held, dismissing the application, that the Secretary of State’s decision was not irrational. Regarding the legitimate expectation claim, there was nothing which might have amounted to such a commitment so far as funding itself was concerned. It was plain from the outset that funding would be guaranteed only if and when the FBC was approved; and equally clear that approval was no simple rubber stamping exercise. The indications that funding was subject to a "satisfactory" FBC, subject to a "Second stage review", the clear understandings that PFI credits would be subject to the CSR once announced, and "with the project remaining consistent with departmental policies and priorities at the time approval is sought", and the deliberate uncertainty expressed by the authorities when appointing the provisional preferred bidder (in expressly making it subject to the availability of PFI credits) all showed that there was no unqualified assurance that funding would be forthcoming if particular conditions were fulfilled, or that a particular process would be followed through to the inevitable consequence that funding would follow. In the absence of such, there was no room for a legitimate expectation which the law will protect.
Nor did the authorities have any legitimate expectation to be consulted on the decision; and even if they had such an expectation, the SoS had shown that the failure to consult because there was an overriding public interest, which was taken into account, in the light of which the action taken was not disproportionate. The court also dismissed the other two grounds. (26 July 2011)

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