SUPPLEMENTARY MEMORANDUM BY THE DETR (DSW
1. What further consideration has been given
to an incineration tax, given that figures in the Waste Strategy
suggest that incineration with energy recovery displacing average-mix
electricity generation has more than three times the environmental
cost of landfill, which is taxed?
The Government has no plans to introduce an
Based on a number of published studies, The
Regulatory Impact Assessment for the Waste Strategy suggests that
the average external cost of landfilling waste is around £3
/ tonne. It also suggests that the average environmental cost
of incinerating waste ranges from £10 per tonne (as the question
states, roughly three times the environmental cost of landfill)
if the energy produced displaces average mix electricity generation
to a benefit of around £17 per tonne if coal fired power
We are, however, consulting on the basis that
energy from waste will be excluded from the renewables obligation
thus removing a significant subsidy to incineration.
2. What are the plans for disposing of fly-ash
from incinerators? As we understand it, this ash will be classed
as hazardous waste and will therefore have to be sent to hazardous
waste landfillswhat plans are there for the provision of
such landfill sites?
Most fly ash is currently disposed of to landfill
sites. Under current definitions not all fly ash is necessarily
hazardous waste as the levels of heavy metals and dioxins are
generally too low to trigger the thresholds that are used in the
UK to determine whether waste is hazardous. However, some fly
ash may need to be treated as hazardous due to its calcium oxide
content, which can cause it to be irritant or corrosive. The classification
of waste as hazardous or non-hazardous is one of the issues to
be considered as part of the forthcoming review of the Special
Waste Regulations, discussed in more detail in our response to
Question 5 below.
Fly ash is most likely to be hazardous waste
where the incinerator is fitted with flue gas desulphurisation
equipment. It is likely that such abatement plant will become
rather more widespread over the next few years, as incinerators
are upgraded to meet the requirements of the Waste Incineration
Directive. However, it is possible that some incinerator operators
will choose to use alternative abatement techniques that do not
give rise to corrosive fly ash.
Where fly ash is classed as hazardous waste
due to its corrosive properties, under the Landfill Directive,
it will be banned from landfills from 2004. Possible treatment
techniques for this waste include solidification and vitrification,
which would neutralise its corrosive properties and allow landfilling
to take place.
We do not yet know precisely how many hazardous
waste landfill sites will be provided following implementation
of the Landfill Directive. This will depend to a large extent
on the acceptance criteria that are set for wastes going to such
landfills and the engineering standards that must be met.
3. Following Philip Ward's answer regarding
an EU Composting Directive, what is the Department's assessment
of the likelihood of such a Directive being introduced (especially
given the publication on 20 October of a first draft working document
on the biological treatment of biodegradable waste), and if it
were introduced, how might it affect the Strategy?
The Commission have announced their clear intention
to introduce an instrument to deal with the treatment of biodegradable
waste and help implement the targets in the Landfill Directive.
They are particularly interested in composting and anaerobic digestion.
It is too early to say whether this will result in a proposal
for a Composting Directive. And until we are clear what such a
measure will require, we cannot know what effect it might have
on the Strategy. However we continue to be doubtful about the
value of a wide-ranging prescriptive instrument as distinct from
agreed standards for compost quality.
4. Is the Government planning to issue any
guidance on the use of BPEO in the context of sustainable waste
The Department is undertaking research into
how to establish the most sustainable waste management option.
The study aims to identify best practice for use by waste planning
authorities in England in identifying and assessing factors to
be taken into account in deciding what is the most sustainable
waste management option for dealing with controlled waste streams,
having regard to the legislative and policy framework for waste
planning. It is anticipated that the study will be completed by
spring 2001 and the guidance is expected to be published subsequently.
5. Further to paragraph 37 of your memorandum,
what changes to domestic hazardous waste legislation is the Government
considering, and when might it expect to implement any changes?
A number of changes to the Special Waste Regulations
1996 (as amended) are being considered. There are a number of
drivers for these proposed revisions.
First, approximately 250 new entries to the
European Commission's Hazardous Waste List will need to be implemented
in domestic legislation by 1 January 2002. The effect of these
changes will be to increase the scope of the Special Waste Regulations,
although many of the wastes that will be considered hazardous
for the first time at European level are already treated as "special"
in the UK.
Second, the European Commission has recently
sent an Article 226 letter to the UK, indicating that, in its
opinion, the Special Waste Regulations do not fully implement
the Hazardous Waste Directive in a number of respects. In particular,
the Commission has stated that the UK defines what is hazardous
(special) incorrectly, in that we apply thresholds for hazardous
properties that must be exceeded for a waste to be special.
Third, DETR recently commissioned a major policy
evaluation of the Regulations, which was undertaken by the environmental
consultants, Enviros Aspinwall. This study involved extensive
consultation with a wide range of people and organisations with
an interest in hazardous waste issues. It emerged that there was
general consensus that the current Regulations were too complex
and that they did little to deliver strategic objectives, such
as hazardous waste reduction.
The Department intends to issue a consultation
paper on the review of the Special Waste Regulations early in
2001, with a view to the changes that are agreed coming into force
on 1 January 2002, (the date by which the changes to the Hazardous
Waste List should come into force). We are currently in discussion
with other Government Departments about the content of the consultation
paper. However, as a result of the policy evaluation, Enviros
Aspinwall recommended that the Department should consider a number
of changes, including the following:
replacing the domestic concept of
"special waste" with the term, "hazardous waste",
defined in accordance with the European Hazardous Waste Directive;
removing the requirement for movements
of special waste to be pre-notified to the Environment Agency;
registration of hazardous waste producers;
requiring hazardous waste producers
to submit quarterly returns to the Agency, detailing waste consigned;
introducing scaled charges according
to the amount of hazardous waste produced and whether it is recycled
or sent for final disposal.
6. What is the Government's current position
on how co-operation between WCAs and WDAs will be encouraged,
and what action will be taken in the case of conflict between
the approaches taken by them?
The Government encourages waste collection and
disposal authorities to work together to manage their waste through
Municipal Waste Management Strategies. Many authorities are already
working on these, and Waste Strategy 2000 made clear the
Government's intention to make them statutory. The Municipal Waste
Management Strategy should set out the authorities' joint policies
and proposals for the collection, treatment and disposal of waste,
reflecting the central place of increased recycling and composting.
It will need to include the authorities' proposals to meet the
performance standards set under Best Value, and we encourage authorities
to meet their recycling performance standards jointly where appropriate.
We will be issuing guidance on Municipal Waste Management Strategies
Waste Strategy 2000 made the commitment
that the Government would identify whether changes are needed
to legislation to support closer working between collection and
disposal authorities, and how these might be implemented under
Best Value or other legislation.