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Defra and EA 'working together' on waste regulation enforcement

Defra and the Environment Agency (EA) have said they are “working closely together” to determine how the revised Waste Framework Directive (rWFD) will be enforced from January 2015.

This follows a comment from Colin Church, Defra’s director of resource, atmosphere and sustainability, who told MRW that it was for local authorities to determine whether they are compliant with the amended Waste (England & Wales) Regulations (2012), which are transposed from the rWFD, but that this will be enforced by the EA.

But Defra and the EA would not offer any more information on how the EA would enforce the regulations, which state that from 1 January 2015, waste collection authorities must collect waste paper, metal, plastic and glass separately, unless they can demonstrate that it is not necessary to ensure the appropriate level of quality, and/or it is not technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP).  

A spokesperson from the EA told MRW it was too early to give more details as discussions of how enforcement would work in practice were underway.

Phil Conran, director of consultancy 360 Environmental highlighted in a blogpost that the regulations - due to be clarified by various imminent policy announcements - need to be enforceable.

The expected announcements from Defra are: TEEP guidance, MRF Code of Practice, Quality Action Plan, consultation on Waste Transfer Notes and Duty of Care guidance.

Conran said: It is assumed that there will be a direct link between these five to ensure that England (and possibly Wales) gets a joined up regulation and guidance framework that clarifies how we will meet the Waste Framework Requirements in a way that is enforceable.

“Ie that the waste hierarchy is applied in a meaningful way, that waste producers and waste collectors understand their legal responsibilities to deliver material separation of sufficient quality and that waste is tracked and measured in such a way as to ensure that the environment is properly protected.”

He added: “But a regulatory framework is only as good as the enforcement that is applied, so whilst changes to clarify and regulate responsibility are welcome, it is suggested that Defra also needs to consider whether the Environment Agency is in a position to enforce whatever is applied on a fair, proportionate and consistent basis.”

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