Defra proposes to remove three waste exemptions following the 2018 consultation on “proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector and introduce a new fixed penalty for the waste duty of care”.
In 2018, Defra and the Welsh Government published a consultation on “proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector and introduce a new fixed penalty for the waste duty of care” (the 2018 consultation). This focussed on the standard of operator competence at permitted waste sites, reforming the waste exemptions element within the environmental permitting regime to prevent the use of exemptions to cover illegal activity and introducing a fixed penalty notice for breaches of the household waste duty of care.
Defra will remove the following waste exemptions:
Exemption U16: Using depolluted end-of-life vehicles for parts
- The 2018 consultation, sought opinions on either retaining the U16 exemption with no changes to its conditions or removing the exemption altogether. It was felt that changing the conditions would not tackle the risk posed by illegal activity associated with the U16 exemption, and this option was therefore not taken forward.
- There was overwhelming support (86%) for the removal of this exemption, with respondents emphasising the negative impact the illegal activity has on legitimate businesses.
- Due to the negative impact abuse of this exemption has on the environment and concerns raised by the waste management industry, Defra will remove the U16 exemption. This will mean operators currently using this exemption will require an environmental permit to operate, or cease their U16 exemption related activities.
- Defra do not foresee any negative impacts from removing this exemption. Those who wish to continue this type of waste operation will have to do so under a permit, which will provide more robust regulatory control.
- There will be a short transition period of 3 months from the date the amendments come into force. Further details can be found in section 8.
Exemption T8: Mechanically treating end-of-life tyres
- More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents supported changing or removing this exemption.
- Given the level of risk in relation to fire from the storage of tyres, and evidence that exemption limits are being exceeded by significant amounts, Defra has concluded that the T8 exemption cannot be retained.
- Defra will therefore remove the T8 exemption from the waste exemptions regime. This will mean that operators currently using this exemption will need to operate under permits or cease their T8 exemption related activities.
- Defra do not foresee the costs of removing the use of this exemption outweighing the benefits to environmental protection and public safety, and expect to see increased compliance for those that move into the permitting regime. Defra also expect to see a reduction in the types of criminal activity associated with the misuse of the T8 exemption, and anticipate this will benefit legitimate operators who are currently undercut by rogue operators.
- Removal of the T8 exemption will not affect those that produce and only store waste tyres as part of their business (e.g. tyre fitters, garages, roadside recovery operators), as storing tyres prior to collection at their own premises is covered by Non-Waste Framework Directive (NWFD) exemptions[footnote 6].
- Due to the negative impacts of illegal activity on legitimate businesses and associated risk to the environment and human health, there will be a short transition period of 3 months from the date the amendments come into force. Further details can be found in section 8.
Exemption T9: Recovering scrap metal
- The majority (82%) of respondents supported changing or removing this exemption, with a close preference for its removal.
- Given the level of risk in relation to fire, and the need for proper site drainage and compliance monitoring, the appropriate form of regulation of this waste activity is through the environmental permitting regime.
- As such, Defra will remove the T9 exemption. This will mean operators currently using this exemption will need to operate under permits, or cease activities allowed under the T9 exemption. The removal of the T9 exemption will help level up the metal recycling sector and apply equally to all operators within the sector.
- Due to the prevalence of illegal activity associated with the T9 exemption and negative impacts on legitimate businesses, there will be a short transition period of 3 months from the date that the amendments come into force.
- Further details on transitional arrangements can be found in section 8.
Further to the above waste exemptions, Defra will also be:
Prohibiting the use of exemptions at/adjacent to permitted sites
- The 2018 consultation proposed amending the Environmental Permitting Regulations so that an exempt waste operation could no longer be carried on at a permitted waste operation. The proposal included exempt waste operations carried out adjacent to a permitted waste site that have direct technical links.
Limiting the number of exemptions registered at a site
- The Environmental Permitting Regulations currently allow the registration of multiple exemptions at a single site, which can result in a number of small-scale, low risk activities having a cumulatively large-scale and complex risk profile. These combined activities often pose a greater environmental risk and should be regulated through a permit. In the 2018 consultation, Defra proposed reducing this risk by limiting the number or scope of exemptions registered at a single site.
There will also be a compulsory requirement for operators to keep and make records available on request for all exemptions, the requirement for operators to keep records in an electronic format and/or in a system identified by the regulator, as well as the ability for regulators to impose additional information requirements for individual exemptions on a case-by-case basis at registration, on an ongoing basis, or at the end of an operation.