To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which derogations in the EU Landfill Directive the Government is planning to remove from application in the UK.
Dan Rogerson (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; North Cornwall, Liberal Democrat):
In the 2010 “Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management in England” the Government signalled its intention to end the practice of relying on higher Landfill Directive waste acceptance criteria (WAC, the so-called 3xWAC derogation) to enable hazardous waste to continue to be landfilled. The Environment Agency consulted in April this year on the removal of this derogation in Council Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste. Defra is considering the responses to the consultation with the Environment Agency and will be engaging with the waste industry to obtain more information on the impact of the removal of this derogation. The Government is not currently considering the removal of any other derogations in the Landfill Directive.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which existing derogations in the EU Landfill Directive the UK applies.
The Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) was transposed into domestic legislation by the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002. The majority of the provisions came into force on 15 June 2002. The Landfill Directive is supplemented by Council Decision 2003/33/EC establishing criteria and procedures for the acceptance of waste at landfills pursuant to Article 16 and Annex II to the Landfill Directive. Between them they contain many derogations which can be applied. The information requested on the existing derogations in the Landfill Directive that the UK applies could only be provided at disproportionate cost. It is generally Government policy to take advantage of any derogations permitted by EU legislation which keep requirements to a minimum when transposing into UK legislation, as failure to do so would amount to gold plating.
An example is the derogation from the landfill diversion targets contained in Article 5 of the Landfill Directive. This relates to targets to progressively reduce the biodegradable municipal waste being sent for disposal in landfill. EU wide targets were established for 2006, 2009 and 2016 for reduction of biodegradable municipal waste. As the UK started from a point where over 80% of this waste was being landfilled in 1995, a four year derogation on these targets was available, which the UK applied. Another Landfill Directive derogation of current interest, and one which also applies in England and Wales, is the practice of relying on higher Landfill Directive waste acceptance criteria (the so-called 3xWAC derogation) to enable hazardous waste to continue to be landfilled.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the removal of the derogations in the EU Landfill Directive will deliver the Best Overall Environmental Outcome; and how her Department made that assessment.
The Government considers that the principles outlined in the “Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management in England” (Defra 2010) provide a framework for promoting the Best Overall Environmental Outcome for hazardous waste management consistent with Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on waste. The Waste Framework Directive introduced a new five-step waste hierarchy which member states must introduce into national waste management laws, and which must be applied by member states in this priority order. Waste prevention, as the preferred option, is followed by reuse, recycling, recovery including energy recovery, and as a last option, safe disposal. In “Guidance on applying the waste hierarchy” (Defra 2011) the Government has indicated that the waste hierarchy already ranks waste management options according to what is best for the environment. Furthermore, in the Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management in England, the Government has stated:
“hazardous waste should be managed by waste producers and waste managers in accordance with the EU waste hierarchy. In applying the hierarchy, hazardous waste producers and waste managers shall opt for hazardous waste management that takes into account the resource value of hazardous wastes, and the need for health and safety to be maintained and delivers the best overall environmental outcome. This may require specific hazardous waste streams departing from the hierarchy where this is justified by life-cycle thinking on the overall impacts of the generation and management of such waste.”