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ESA disappointed by waste crime proposals

Government proposals to tackle waste crime and strengthen regulations fail to go far enough, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has said.

A consultation earlier this year looked at ways to deter crime and poor performance in the waste industry.

Defra has now said what it will do, but the ESA said these measures fell short of the “complete overhaul” needed for carrier, broker and dealer regulation.

It said it will require all regulated waste facilities to be managed and operated in accordance with a written management system, which identifies and minimises the risks of pollution.

Waste operators will be required to notify the regulators of their technical competence management arrangements, and a de-registration system for technical competence will be introduced.

The Environmental Permitting Core Guidance will be changed to widen the scope of offences, behaviour and relevant persons the regulator can take account of when assessing competence.

Defra officials are still considering technical changes to exemptions requirements. It said there was a “clear need to reform the 10 most problematic exemptions in order to prevent their use to cover illegal activity”, but this should be done so that it did not unreasonably affect legitimate work.

There will also be a fixed penalty notice system for breaches of the household waste Duty of Care as an alternative to prosecuting offenders.

ESA head of regulation Sam Corp said: “Without a complete overhaul of the carriers, brokers, dealers regime – as previously recommended by the ESA and others, including the Government’s own review into serous and organised waste crime – we retain our concerns about the effectiveness of this proposal to deter the ‘real’ criminals.

“Current requirements for becoming a registered waste carrier, broker or dealer are just not stringent enough. So, unfortunately, simply checking that you have passed your waste to a registered carrier does not provide any real guarantee that it will not then be fly-tipped. We therefore look forward to further Government action in the near future to tackle this issue.”

Corp welcomed fixed penalty notices as “a significant measure which should have a real impact by raising awareness of this important responsibility amongst householders”.

The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) echoed the ESA’s concerns and said key objectives of the consultation “will not be addressed or have now been postponed”.

A spokesperson said: ”We are concerned that there is seemingly no appetite to carry out a root and branch review of the waste carrier, broker or dealer licencing system. Currently, unlike the scrap metal dealer licencing system, there are few checks and balances made into those people applying for a waste carrier, broker or dealer licence.

”We are disappointed that further information about specific financial provision options and the potential changes to the exemption system will not now be released until 2019. While it is heartening that Defra states it remains committed to reforming the exemption system, delaying a decision, let alone implementing any changes, allows otherwise illegal operators to obtain an exemption to appear to be part of the regulated community whilst very often flouting all other environmental controls.

”Until reforms are enacted, these operators will continue unchecked thereby creating an uneven playing field for legitimate operators.”

  • This article was updated on 28 November to include comment from the BMRA


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