Delays by the Environment Agency (EA) in issuing permits threaten a shortage of waste wood next winter, the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) has warned.
Its chair Andy Hill said that last winter had seen the first real scarcity of waste wood, caused by higher demand and an unusually long and cold winter.
Next winter could prove worse if operators continued to face delays in receiving fire prevention plans (FPPs) and environmental permits from the EA, he said.
Hill said this would be exacerbated by new biomass plants expected to increase demand for waste wood by one million tonnes.
“If the EA does not get to the point where it can grant FPPs and permits to waste wood operators, there is a real danger there will be a shortage of material both for the biomass plants and existing markets including panelboard,” he said.
“It is now critical that the EA appreciates how the market has developed. Regulation needs to evolve and be fit for purpose to ensure its needs can be met.”
He said it would be “appalling” if waste wood went to landfill because of “a continual stalling in the granting of permits”.
An EA spokesperson said: “FPPs were introduced as a mechanism to ensure operators of waste sites minimise the risk of fires and reduce the impact if sites do catch fire.
“We are working closely with the WRA and its members to ensure FPPs are in place to enable businesses to operate in a way that is safe.
“We have recruited a new fire protection expert to give technical support on FPPs and environmental permits.”