Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Chemical Industries Association (E19(a))
The evidence provided by the Shanks Group during
the subsequent session demonstrated the capability of the waste
management industry to provide alternative disposal routes to
landfill. That capability, however, is not in place and it will
be some time before the necessary investments are made and the
new facilities come on-stream. I myself said that I was confident
that, subject to planning restraints, market forces would prevail
to ensure that disposal capacity was available to deal with the
supply of hazardous waste. Our concern is that there will be a
short-term problem of lack of non-landfill disposal capacity.
In its written evidence, the CBI noted (paragraph
9) the Environment Agency estimate that 2.5 million tonnes per
annum of hazardous waste would be diverted from landfill as a
result of the implementation of the Landfill Directive. To set
against that, the current total high temperature incineration
capacity in the waste management industry is some 0.1 million
tonnes per annum.
Mr Tipping asked for further information and
examples on the Environment Agency's efficiency in dealing with
applications from operators.
The Agency's own tables of its performance against
the standards of its Customer Charter show that in 2000-01:
93 per cent of applications for an
Integrated Pollution Control consent were answered on time.
83 per cent of applications for a
waste management licence were answered in time.
For both types of application the standard is
a decision within four months of receipt of the application, although,
for complex applications, a longer time may be agreed at the time
There are complicating factors which need to
be taken into account: delays can occur because of factors outside
the Agency's control (eg lack of planning permission); conversely,
the Agency can issue a notice requiring further information ("Schedule
4" questions, referring to the Schedule to the PPC Regulations)
and the time spent in asking and answering the further questions
is not taken into account in the four month period, ie the clock
The Annex is an example provided by Thomas Swan
& Co. which demonstrates the delays which can arise.
Nuclear sites have a particular problem in gaining
new authorisations under the relevant legislation (Radioactive
Substances Act). The Act specifies a period of four months as
a prescribed period of determination, which is similar to the
legislation for non-radioactive discharges, eg IPC and PPC. However,
nuclear sites are excluded from the four month timescale leaving
the determination periods open-ended, with the consequence that
there may have been unduly onerous delays of up to several years
experienced within the nuclear industry. This is a particular
problem where new plant operations are delayed, eg the new MOX
plant at Sellafield, or where flexibility is required to meet
market changes or implement reorganisation of the industry or
It also needs to be recognised that there are
several stakeholders involved and that the Agency is not in sole
charge of the timescales for determination of a new nuclear authorisation.
In particular, the issue of "justification" has been
contentious, and accountability for this aspect has now been remitted
to HMG (except in Scotland). Additionally, the approval of new
authorisations has often been held up by a final review by the
DEFRA Minister. Nonetheless, there is concern that the overall
process is both lengthy and indeterminate, ie the timescale cannot
be predicted, giving rise to considerable business uncertainty.
Director, Responsible Care and HSE Policy