Waste exporters have been warned by Defra to avoid ports with roll-on, roll-off services in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Guidance said exporters might need alternative ports, but varying routes would require permission from the regulators and authorities in the receiving country.
Defra said disruption was not expected at container ports, but others could be hit, with Dover predicted to be the worst affected and waste exports that use Eurotunnel services also at risk.
Successful negotiations with the EU mean all existing consents for export of ‘notified’ hazardous waste to any EU member state will remain valid. There would also be no change in the export of other ‘non-notified’ waste, although “in the event of no-deal, changes to border controls may impact on some waste exports”.
Environment minister Therese Coffey said the Government was committed to dealing with more waste in the UK but, “in the short term, we have taken important action to ensure any disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit can be minimised”.
She urged waste companies to review their capacity to store waste on-site and identify alternative storage facilities if necessary.
The Defra guidance said: “If you do change your export route, you will also need to change your export notification. This must be agreed by the UK and overseas competent authority.”
Those who needed to store more waste than usual on-site would still need to comply with permit requirements from the Environment Agency or equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
An Environmental Services Association statement said: ”Defra has confirmed that all export notifications will be rolled over under a no-deal scenario. This means there are no regulatory impediments to continued refuse-derived fuel exports.
”Concerns remain, however, over the whether there would be delays in practice at the ports, particularly Dover.
”The Port of Dover is confident that it has the right processes in place to prevent no-deal disruption. But the message is clear that operators need to have contingencies in place as no one really knows what would happen the day after a no-deal exit.”
In February, the Environment Agency warned that stockpiling of waste could lead to breaches of licence conditions.
Earlier this month, Defra said it had recruited a 16-strong team of civil servants to uphold environmental legislation should the UK leave the EU without a deal.