Calls for the Government to abandon changes to waste exemption permits have come from the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA).
The BMRA said that changes suggested by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) risked economic damage to metal recyclers. It said that rather than lightening regulation for businesses during the economic slowdown, the Governments plans would increase the burden.
The organisations concerns were raised in its response to the Government consultation on revising exemptions.
Defra has proposed to reduce the tonnages and types of materials that would be exempt under the new rules. Existing rules allow exemptions for 51,500 tonnes to be handled on site. However, changes would see this reduced to 15,000 tonnes. Wet waste would also cease to be exempt. So any site handling more than 15,000 tonnes or recycling car lead acid batteries would need a permit.
The knock on effect of this is that to get a permit, companies must also have planning consent. Businesses that are exempt only require a certificate of lawful use to operate. Any companies that fall outside the new exemption criteria could be required to apply for planning permission to obtain a permit. This is expected to affect about a quarter of BMRA members.
BMRA director general Lindsay Millington said: Now is not the time to review the metals recycling exemption. There are no environmental benefits to Defras Paragraph 45 suggestions [in the 1994 waste management licensing regulations], only the risk of economic damage to a business sector.
A Defra spokesman said: We will be looking at all the responses to the consultation and considering them.
He said a further industry consultation on exemption to inform guidance would take place in February or March next year and changes to the rules are not expected to come in until October 2009.