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Waste failed in 'crucial' planning document, says ESA

A “recipe for confusion” is how the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has blasted the way waste has been handled in the draft National Planning Policy Framework.

The framework is designed to promote sustainable growth and simplify the planning process, but the ESA said it made only a “cursory” mention of waste management.

The comments came as consultation on the draft closed.

The ESA added that six out of 10 local authorities currently have incomplete waste plans, and the framework’s approach will not have helped to address this situation. It added that if the waste industry was to invest the £10-20bn needed to upgrade Britain’s waste infrastructure, then a coherent planning framework was necessary.

In response, the ESA has published its own report on reforming the planning system called No Time to Waste: Planning Reform for Sustainable Waste Infrastructure.

The report calls for a number of measures including:

  • More meaningful reference in the NPPF on the role of waste management in meeting the Government’s strategic objectives
  • Planning authorities should form strategic waste planning partnerships
  • The Government should propose statutory time limits for preparation and adoption of development plans
  • Business rates and a proportion of Community Infrastructure Levy should be retained for direct community benefit
  • Planning decisions should be excluded from the scope of local referendums proposed in the Localism Bill
  • Local authorities should publicise the costs of unsuccessfully defending a planning appeal
  • Every year, Defra and the Department for Communities and Local Government should report jointly on progress in delivering waste infrastructure

ESA director of policy Matthew Farrow said: “The NPPF’s focus on growth is welcome, but the document fails to set out the importance of waste management to delivering sustainable development. At a time when 58% of local authorities have still not put in place their waste plans, despite having a legal obligation to do so, this is a recipe for confusion.

“We recognise that the Government intends to revise PPS10 in the future. But the timescale for this is not clear, and with so many local authorities still struggling to put in place up-to-date waste management plans, the NPPF will be a crucial document. It must give waste management its rightful place.”

Meanwhile, The ESA has criticised the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) proposals for new cost recovery powers.

Stephen Freeland, ESA’s policy executive, said: We have no objection in principle to the HSE recovering legitimate costs where a company is at fault for a health & safety breach. However, these proposals need more work before they will achieve this. At present individual inspectors would have too much discretion to decide whether costs should be recovered or not, and there is no independent appeals process where a business felt the inspector had overstepped the mark.”

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