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Regional Technical Advisory Board members express dismay over Conservative Party plans to axe RTWABs

The UK will find it difficult to plan for new waste management facilities if the Conservative Party goes ahead with plans to ditch Regional Technical Waste Advisory Boards, say Regional Technical Advisory Board members.

The Conservative Party will scrap Regional Technical Waste Advisory Boards if they come to power under plans in its Green Paper Control shift returning power to local communities (see MRW story). It is part of the Conservative Partys wider proposals to devolve power from regional quangos back down to local councils.

RTWABs provide regional and local planning bodies with estimations of waste arisings, movements and current management capacity. They provide the strategic information which gives the context for local decisions on planning applications for new waste management facilities.

RTAB Yorkshire and Humber chair Rob Murfin said that RTWABs are vital if the UK is to hit the pressing targets for delivering sustainable waste management. He said if they are scrapped it will make this process slower and significantly more difficult.

Murfin said that planning applications for waste management are often deeply unpopular with local communities and politicians, and local areas may feel that they are bearing a disproportionate burden of waste treatment facilities: RTABs help to provide a consistent picture of the strategic need for new waste management capacity which in turn helps the private sector deliver new facilities where there is a demonstrable shortfall.

He added that the data provided to the planning authorities save them money because it avoids the need for each council to carry out expensive waste data research.

RTAB East of England secretary Deborah Sacks said it will be a disaster if the RTWABs were scrapped. She said: The RTWABs deliver the framework and capacity to deliver on the ground. If there are no RTWABs then there will not be any mechanisms to help the counties to coordinate policy and deliver technical information and coordinate data.

Sacks said that the issue seems to be a political issue and a popular line to take.
RTAB East Midlands chair Lonek Wojtulewickz questions what is going to replace RTWABs and who would provide the strategic data which RTWABs provide to planning authorities to help them make waste management planning decisions. He said: With commercial and industrial waste how do you go about finding out what Toyota does with its waste? Or any other company for that matter! But at least we know where some of that waste comes from. Information about that is very patchy and difficult to grab hold of.

A Conservative spokesman said: "Our green paper outlines plans to abolish the Regional Spatial Strategies and all forms of regional planning. This would include regional waste planning. Local authorities would be responsible for their own waste planning in a plan-led system, guided by the framework of Planning Policy Guidance/Statements."
* The RTAB supports the work on the Regional Spatial Strategies [a planning document for sustainable development].
* The present Government plans to replace Regional Spatial Strategies and Regional Economic Strategies with Integrated Regional Strategies in order to simplify arrangements. RSS currently set the strategic context for land use plans at the local level in Local Development Frameworks.
* RTABs provide regional planning bodies with estimations of waste arisings, movements and current management capacity.

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