Leading waste industry figures are in discussions with resource minister Therese Coffey and the Environment Agency (EA) over plans to reduce the number of inspections at better performing waste sites in order to target criminals.
The Environmental Services Association (ESA), along with senior executives of some of the UK’s largest waste management firms, have reached an agreement with the EA over establishing an earned recognition scheme for the sector
Earlier this year the EA announced it wanted to put waste site operators into one of four bands, with those classified under ‘improvement/significant improvement needed’ being targeted by enforcement or remediation action. Better performing sites would face fewer inspections.
The agreement was made at a round-table discussion with the EA, Defra, representatives of seven waste management companies (pictured) and Coffey.
The talks also covered sharing intelligence on people who pass their waste on to illegal operators, thereby failing to deliver their duty of care, improving technical competence in the sector and tackling waste fires.
Harvey Bradshaw, executive director for environment and business at the EA, said the partnership with industry would help to develop a new regulatory regime in order to allow the EA to focus resources “where they will have the biggest impact”.
He added: “It is still very early days and there are still plenty of discussions to be had but, in the meantime, we’ve agreed some key priorities between us.”
ESA chairman Stewart Davies said: “At a time when waste crime seems more entrenched than ever, it is vital that the regulator is able to trust ESA members to do the right thing and focus its resources on criminals and poor-performing operators.
“The industry is an excellent source of technical expertise which will be made available to help the agency deliver its objectives.”
James Bevan, EA chief executive, said: “We want to work with responsible operators to deliver more targeted regulations, but also focus our resources on hitting the worst offenders, which is good news for legitimate businesses, the economy and local communities.
“In addition, a more proactive approach to duty of care will plug weaknesses in the supply chain and prevent waste from leaking into the hands of criminals.”
While extra funding has been put into the EA in recent years to help tackle waste crime, the Government is keen to cut the cost of inspections and enforcement by getting businesses to provide their own evidence.
In January, the Regulatory Futures Review, published by the Cabinet Office, suggested that the some of the cost of regulation should be shifted from the EA to businesses.
Industry attendees included:
- Stewart Davies, chief executive, Augean, (chairman of ESA)
- David Palmer-Jones, chief executive, Suez
- Nick Pollard, chief executive, Cory Energy
- James Priestley, chief executive, Renewi
- Robert Hunt, chief corporate officer, Veolia
- Jeff Rhodes, head of environmental and external affairs, Biffa
- Dan Cooke, director of communications and external affairs, Viridor