A plan to scrap the requirement for construction projects in England to have site waste management plans exposes the inconsistency of waste policies in the UK, industry bodies have said.
The repeal of the Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP) regulations was proposed in 2012 as part as the government’s Red Tape Challenge, an initiative designed to remove unnecessary legislation affecting business.
A Defra consultation on the proposal opened on 18 June and closed on 16 July.
This came after the Welsh government opened a consultation on whether to make SWMPs a legal requirement for construction and demolition projects in January. The proposal included the introduction of different waste management plans according to the size and the duration of the projects.
Sam Corp, head of regulation at the Environmental Services Association, said it seemed “inconsistent” that Defra proposed to repeal the regulations while the Welsh government was working in the opposite direction.
In its submission to Defra’s consultation, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management also expressed perplexity on the different approach to construction waste regulations in England and Wales.
“The decision by the Welsh Government to introduce SWMPs with demanding thresholds for their application has been based on a thorough impact assessment. CIWM is perplexed that England’s impact assessment yields the opposite conclusion,” it said.
According to the Defra consultation document, removing the mandatory SWMP requirements will save businesses an estimated £20.3m over five years in administration and implementation costs.
The preferred policy options among the ones proposed in the Welsh consultation would instead provide the construction industry with a net benefit of £39.5m in ten years. The benefit would derive from a reduction in costs of materials, increasing sorting of waste and a reduction in the costs of waste disposal.
“As a bare minimum in this case, CIWM would advocate that Defra and Welsh Government compare and contrast impact statements to reconcile such a different set of conclusions,” said the CIWM.
Defra said it had received more than 140 responses to its consultation, and would analyse and summarise them before issuing a government response within the next 12 weeks.