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MPs: Change harmful waste planning rules

Draft rules governing large hazardous waste project applications risk causing flooding and legal rows, MPs have warned.  

The Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Efra) committee also warned there was a “real risk” developers would not invest in crucial infrastructure if the draft planning guidelines for hazardous waste rules were not amended.

Efra chair, Anne McIntosh (Con), said industry investment in new infrastructure was essential if the UK was to meet hazardous waste disposal targets.

She added: “Planners will rely on this policy statement to determine applications, but at present it contains ambiguities which could lead to lengthy and expensive legal argument.

“As well as providing greater clarity in the policy statement itself, we call on Defra to look for opportunities to reduce bureaucracy and duplication in the planning process.”

The committee’s report also raised concerns that the national policy statement had not set out “a sufficiently robust approach to the issue of flooding”. It recommended “the Environment Agency be given the power to veto applications on ground of flood risk”.

MPs also called on Defra to provide further opportunities for local communities to propose mitigation measures to reduce the local impact of projects.

The Environmental Services Association said it remained “very concerned about the level of fees and charges that will fall on developers of hazardous waste facilities, particularly as the thresholds for inclusion in the NPS regime remain relatively low”.

ESA director of policy, Matthew Farrow, said:. “We are particularly keen to see Defra amend the NPS so that the language used is consistent and accurate throughout the document, so as to reduce the likelihood of legal challenge in the planning process.”

Farrow added the ESA welcomed the committee’s recommendation that Government play a more proactive role in educating the public about the benefits of new hazardous waste infrastructure.

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