MEMORANDUM BY NORTH WEST REGIONAL TECHNICAL
ADVISORY BODY (DSW 115)
1. The Regional Technical Advisory Body
(RTAB) of the North West Regional Assembly has been asked to give
oral evidence about the role of RTAB's in the context of the delivery
of the National Waste Strategy. RTAB's are new emerging bodiesprescribed
in PPG10. Their precise roles, operations and outcomes in influencing
sustainable waste management are still very much in the making.
The work of the North West RTAB, whilst not wholly representative
of all RTAB's, is believed to be indicative of the role and potential
of most RTAB's, their problems and the issues facing them are
also believed to be similar. In order that RTAB's may operate
in a more consistent manner, the DETR has recently convened a
National Forum of RTAB's and this will hold its first meeting
early in the new year. It is anticipated this will provide for
the exchange of experiences, ideas and best practice.
2. Waste management has long been recognised
as an important regional issue in the North West. The establishment
of the North West Regional Association in 1993, predecessor to
the current Regional Assembly (and Regional Planning Body (RPB)),
saw the formation of an elected local authority member waste management
group, supported by an officer group. One of the terms of reference
of the officer group was "to prepare and regularly update
an overview of the needs of the region for waste management facilities
and to assess whether provision is adequate and what future requirements
are". This was in effect a request to prepare a regional
waste strategy. The officer group has varied in size and compilation
over the years but in November 1999, following the publication
of PPG10; the RTAB was formally established by the Assembly. The
reporting mechanism for the RTAB to the Assembly is through its
Key Priority Group on Planning, Transport and the Environment.
This is made up of elected representatives from some of the constituent
local authorities and various partners and stakeholders in the
region, including businesses, academea and the voluntary sectorrepresenting
the economic, social and environmental interests of the region.
3. The RTAB is composed of representatives
from waste planning authorities, waste disposal authorities, waste
collection authorities, the waste management industry, the Environment
Agency, the Government Office for the Region, the Regional Planning
Guidance Team and the Countryside Agency. It comprises of 16 people
and complies with the guidelines in PPG10.
4. The RTAB's terms of reference are taken
from PPG10 annex B. The same group of people also act as a Waste
Steering Group for the Assembly and advise on other waste matters.
A distinction needs to be drawn between these two separate functions.
5. The terms of reference under PPG10 require
all RTAB's to produce in effect a Technical Report for the RPB,
which should advise on the likely demand for regional waste management
and disposal. This information should be published, consulted
on and regularly monitored and reviewed. The production of the
Technical report in the North West is very much a pre-cursor to
a Regional Waste Strategy, which will comment in more detail on
the number, type and location of facilities required over the
next 20 years.
6. Progress on a North West Regional Technical
Report and Waste Strategy has been a complicated and time consuming
area of work which has been delayed by the need to obtain base-line
information, the need to take account of the developing National
Waste Strategy and the EU Landfill Directive and the lack of full-time
officer resources. It is understood that other Regional RTAB's
are in a similar position.
7. Initial work has concentrated on municipal
waste where good base data was available. The development of a
model by the Environment Agency has allowed an assessment to be
made of the impact of various future waste management options
and some interim conclusions to be reached. These helped inform
the development of waste policies in the North West Regional Planning
Guidance (Draft RPG published in July 2000) though these could
not however, be regarded as a full Regional Waste Strategy.
8. Work has continued on compiling information
on commercial and industrial wastes with the availability of information
via the emerging Strategic Waste Management Assessments from the
Environment Agency. The RTAB's involvement with a DETR Research
Project on Sustainable Waste Management will help in the identification
of the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) for the Region.
It is hoped to complete the RTAB technical report by spring 2001.
9. The National Waste Strategy expects Waste
Planning Authorities to implement planning policy guidance fully
and quicklyPPG's 10 and 11together with any relevant
Regional Planning Guidance. Progress so far has been slow and
while there have been a number of factors causing this the lack
of full time staff has been a major one. None of the RTAB members
work full time on this work. All are employed full time by other
organisations and have other jobs to do. Inevitably the time that
they can give to RTAB work is limited and depends on the demands
of their parent organisations. This is also believed to be a problem
with other RTAB's. However, in the last year the Environment Agency,
has provided invaluable assistance and has more recently seconded
an officer to work part time on the project and this has allowed
more rapid progress to be made. There will however, be a need
for effective long-term monitoring and review of the technical
data and the databases on which they are founded. There is therefore
a resource demand for some dedicated full-time support for the
RTAB which the Regional Chamber is unable to fund.
10. PPG 10 expects that the Government will
be able to compare waste strategies for each region to ensure
that, together, they will meet expected national requirements.
How this will be achieved is not clear and it will be essential
for RTAB's to receive guidance as soon as possible to ensure consistency
in the preparation of reports and strategies consistent with the
objectives of the National Strategy.
Relationship to Regional Planning Body
11. The production of the RTAB technical
report is not the end of the process but just a stage. The RPB
needs to carry out widespread consultation on the report and having
taken into account the comments made, decide on a Regional Waste
Strategy. This arms length approach to the RTAB is not particularly
helpful and it might make more sense for the RTAB to carry out
consultation as part of its work.
Powers of the Regional Planning Body
12. The RPB has no statutory powers. It
is an informal collection of Local Authorities and other bodies
that has only limited powers over its members. The implementation
of any agreed Regional Waste Strategy could at present only be
brought about via Regional Planning Guidance and persuasion. Therefore
the RTAB's technical guidance is informing waste planning from
the top down, whereas the National Waste Strategy is driving from
the bottom up through Waste Disposal Authorities and Waste Collection
Regional Planning Guidance
13. RPG is prepared in draft form by the
RPB. This is then subject to an "Examination in Public"
before being issued by the Secretary of State. Any specific waste
management policies would need to be developed through the many
Structure, Unitary and Waste Local Plans in the region. This will
inevitably be a slow process and will take a number of years.
Development of New Facilities
14. Any local planning applications for
new waste management facilities would be determined in accordance
with the relevant local development plan. For municipal waste,
changing waste management practices will be brought about by decisions
made by the numerous waste collection and disposal authorities.
These are often made with little or no reference to planning policies.
The privatisation of municipal waste disposal companies in the
90s has not helped in this respect.
Identification of BPEO
15. The Government advises that future waste
management decisions should be based on consideration of the BEPO.
This is a complicated and difficult task. The North West RTAB
is currently working with consultants for the DETRs research project:
"Planning for Sustainable Waste Management." The overall
aim of the study is to identify best practice for use by RTABs
and Waste Planning authorities in identifying and assessing factors
to be taken into account in deciding on sustainable waste planning
options, having regard to the legislative and policy context for
waste planning when translated into RPG or Development Plans.
The preferred option would form the basis of the overall planning
strategy. The result would hopefully be a "planning-led"
strategy, rather than one influenced primarily by the aspirations
of industry and individual local authority waste disposal contracts.
16. We believe that the DETR has chosen
the North West Region as a case study area for the research project
because amongst other reasons:
The NW RTAB is one of the most advanced
in its work.
The region has a good mix of urban
and rural areas.
The region has a high dependence
on landfill and a relatively low level of recycling.
17. Weighing up the various factors involved
in determining BEPO inevitably requires values to be placed on
their relative merits. There is a strong argument that this can
only be done either through the political process or by involving
the public. The RTAB is unable to do this under the current reporting
18. The region represents a sensible scale
to plan strategically for waste and the North West RTAB is demonstrating
that this can be achieved. The problems lie in the lack of resources
available to RTABs and the difficulties in implementing any regional
strategy decided upon due to the limited powers available to Regional