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Thu, 9 July 2020

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ESA welcomes Environment Agency waste storage approach to relieve some pressure on operators

2 min read

The Environmental Services Association (ESA), the voice of the UK’s recycling and waste management industry, has welcomed a Regulatory Position Statement (RPS) issued by the Environment Agency, which takes a pragmatic, flexible, approach to the storage of waste materials in the event of onward supply chain disruption caused by the COVID 19 crisis.

Identified early-on as a critical area for the sector, the ESA asked the regulatory authorities to consider short-term flexibility around planning and permitting conditions to allow services to continue in the event of a reduced workforce, or inability to move recyclable or waste material to its normal destinations, caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. This includes permit conditions regulated under the EA and local planning conditions set by local authorities.

The ESA has also raised a number of additional areas in which a regulatory response is required, for example, around removing the need for physical signatures on waste documentation. These are expected imminently.

Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), Jacob Hayler, said: “The Regulatory Position Statement released today is important because it relieves some of the pressure facing waste facility operators, who may accumulate more material than usual if outlets such as Materials Recycling Facilities, Energy-from-Waste plants or export operations go offline, or have reduced capacity, due to staff shortages. These measures also help to ensure that recyclable and waste material will be put to its intended use in the event of onward supply chain disruption, rather than being sent to the nearest available disposal facility.

There are still some issues facing operators, however, such as the need to obtain landlord approval for increased storage, which may introduce additional hurdles and cause delay.

This regulatory position is clearly not a licence to relax standards and there are many conditions which must be met in order to continue to comply with the regulations. It is also not an invitation for criminal operators to stockpile material and the EA, supported by legitimate operators, must remain vigilant to this and not relax enforcement.”

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