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Fortnightly Bulletin – 26th February 2024

26 February 2024

Bins on street

Guidance

Temporary storage of waste sandbags after a flood: RPS 168

The Environment Agency’s (EA) Regulatory Position Statement (RPS) on when local authorities can temporarily store waste sandbags at designated collection points without an environmental permit has been updated to the latest template. This RPS is for local authorities, and those acting on their behalf, who need to set up temporary collection points to store waste sandbags (17 09 03* or 17 09 04) that have been used during a flood.

You must:

  • store all waste sandbags in a secure place. Where you have taken reasonable precautions to prevent waste escaping and where members of the public cannot access them,
  • carry out a visual and olfactory (smell) assessment to help determine whether they may be hazardous waste, such as, being contaminated with oil or fuels,
  • segregate and store discarded sandbags that may be contaminated with hazardous waste in secure containers, or in an area with impermeable pavement and sealed drainage,
  • use a registered waste carrier to transport waste sandbags from the temporary collection point to a permitted site for recovery or disposal,
  • keep records for two years that show you have complied with this RPS – you must make these records available to the Environment Agency on request.

You must not store waste sandbags for longer than three months before they are sent for recovery or disposal at a permitted site.

The EA intends to review this RPS by 30th September 2026.

Source: Gov.uk

For the full guidance, click here

Accepting household packaging waste at Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs): RPS 234

This RPS has been updated to the new template. RPS 234 does not change your legal requirement to comply with an environmental permit for a waste operation to accept separately collected household packaging waste when codes 15 01 01 to 15 01 09 are not in the environmental permit.

However, the Environment Agency (EA) will not normally take enforcement action against you if you do not comply with this legal requirement provided that:

  • your activity meets the description set out in this RPS,
  • you comply with the conditions set out in this RPS.

In addition, your activity must not cause (or be likely to cause) pollution of the environment or harm to human health, and must not:

  • cause a risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals,
  • cause a nuisance through noise or odours,
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest.

Conditions you must comply with include the following:

  • Be a HWRC holding a waste environmental permit.
  • Classify all household packaging waste under the relevant waste codes 15 01 01 to 15 01 09 – where a proportion of the waste is not packaging waste, you can dual code under both the relevant 15 01 and 20 01 codes.
  • Keep records for two years to show that you have complied with this RPS and make these records available to the Environment Agency (EA) on request.

The EA intends to review this RPS by 1st January 2027.

Source: Gov.uk

For the full guidance, click here

Abstracting floodwater outside of licence conditions during flood events: RPS 300

This RPS applies when there is a ‘flood warning’ or ‘severe flood warning’ issued by the Environment Agency (EA) flood alerts and warnings service at the licensed point of abstraction. This applies to the abstraction of water from ‘source of supply’ (rivers, streams or groundwater) either:

  • at a time of year this is not included within your licence conditions.
  • at instantaneous, hourly, or daily rates that exceed your licence quantities.

The RPS will no longer apply once the ‘flood warning’ or ‘severe flood warning’ has been lifted.

Conditions you must comply with

You must:

  • have a valid abstraction licence,
  • comply with the conditions of your licence relating to:
    • points of abstraction,means of abstraction,eel and fish screening,purposes of abstraction
    • annual abstraction quantity,
  • notify the EA by email at WRRegulation@environment-agency.gov.uk with the subject ‘RPS 300: floodwater abstraction’ and your licence number within 2 days of starting abstraction under this RPS,
  • submit a record of the hourly and daily quantities abstracted within 5 days of stopping abstraction under this RPS,
  • make it clear how much water was abstracted under this RPS when you submit your annual abstraction returns,
  • keep records for 6 years to show that you have complied with this RPS and make these records available to the EA on request.

You must not: 

  • adversely affect or derogate abstraction licences and protected rights,
  • adversely affect or damage designated conservation sites,
  • exceed the abstraction rates allowed under your existing licence by more than:
  • 60 litres per second,
  • 216 cubic metres per hour,
  • 5,184 cubic metres per day (m3d),
  • use this RPS if the EA tells you that total abstraction exceeds 10% of the flow at the abstraction point,
  • use this RPS in more than one ‘flood warning’ or ‘severe flood warning’ event.

The EA intends to review this RPS by 31 March 2025.

Source: Gov.uk

For the full guidance, click here

Articles of Interest

Inspection surge to crack down on water sector pollution

Water company inspections will more than quadruple as the Government cracks down on poor performing companies, under plans announced on 20th February 2024. In recent months, robust steps have been made under the ‘Plan for Water’ with all 15,000 storm overflows now monitored and the cap on civil penalties for pollution removed. The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) went further in announcing that water bosses are set to be banned from receiving bonuses if a company has committed serious criminal breaches.

The Environment Agency (EA) is already ramping up inspections on water company assets, this includes an increase in unannounced inspections. The increased inspections and enforcement will be backed by around £55 million each year and will be fully funded through increased grant-in-aid from DEFRA and the EA and additional funding from water quality permit charges levied on water companies, subject to a public consultation closing in March 2024.

Source: Gov.uk

For the full article, click here

Two-thirds of councils are not confident they can fund new Simpler Recycling services

Two-thirds of councils are not confident they will be able to fund the additional services required to implement Simpler Recycling reforms, according to a survey by the District Council Network.

In 2023, The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) launched it’s ‘Simpler Recycling’ policy as a replacement for ‘Consistency in Recycling’. The Simpler Recycling policy requires most District Councils (DCs) to collect household food waste weekly by 2026 and include an expectation that residual waste is to be collected fortnightly.

The District Council Network (DCN) survey, which was completed by 99 of its 169 member councils, showed that councils anticipate an average shortfall of at least £210,000 to fund the new vehicles and containers required to introduce food waste collections. The shortfall excludes the capital cost of investing in new or expanded depots, which the government has indicated it will not fund. When asked the biggest barriers to implementing the reform by the government’s deadline of the 1st April 2026, the following were cited:

  • 48% cited difficult procurement timelines.
  • 44% cited the complexity of arrangements with county councils to dispose of new material.
  • 41% cited contract renegotiations.

However, 46% of councils told the DCN they are confident they would be able to provide the new services to flats or remote properties by April 2026.

The DCN said that many respondents indicated that, until full government guidance is released, they cannot plan how they will deliver services to these properties. The survey also showed that councils have seen the costs of waste collections increase by 13% on average over the past year.

Commenting on the survey, Cllr Sarah Nelmes, Environment Spokesperson of the District Councils’ Network, said: “The government’s Simpler Recycling plan will mean significant service changes at many councils. New waste lorries, bins and, in some cases, larger depots will be required, all at great expense.”

“The funding currently on offer is nowhere near enough. Unless the government upholds the longstanding doctrine that it funds the full costs of any new burdens it imposes on councils, hard-pressed councils will have even fewer resources to support our communities.”

“We are pleased the government listened to councils and to our residents when we feared their previous proposals would lumber households with up to seven bins and would be unworkable. Now the government needs to listen when we tell them that their new proposals – although an improvement – will be unrealistic unless councils are funded for the full costs.”

Source: Circular for Resource and Waste Professionals

For the full article, click here

Airport to stand trial on river pollution charges

A UK airport is to stand trial over allegations it polluted a river with chemicals it uses to de-ice planes and its runway.

The airport has a permit to release wastewater but is accused of breaching its conditions by causing sewage fungus outbreaks. The allegations include causing a water discharge activity and alleged failures to comply with an environmental permit between 2021 and 2022.

The airport is being prosecuted by the Environment Agency (EA). They denied six charges in a hearing at Derby Crown Court and a trial is set to take place on 19 May 2025.

Source: BBC

For the full article, click here

Supermarket chain sacks food waste processor amid reporting error

A well-known supermarket chain has terminated its relationship with its contractor after an internal review found that the supermarkets food, which it believed was being processed for animal feed, was instead going to anaerobic digestion.

This article highlights the importance to carry out checks on using animal feed contractors with the correct registrations, and to audit their processes.

Source: Grocery Gazette

For the full article, click here

Prosecutions and Fines

Buckinghamshire firm pays heavily for packaging oversight

A Buckinghamshire company have made a financial contribution of almost £21,000 to a local charity, plus Environment Agency (EA) costs, after it failed to comply with packaging waste regulations.

An Aylesbury-based coating manufacturer pledged £20,935.76 to the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust after failing to comply with the Producer Responsibility Obligation (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 (as amended). The regulation ensures that businesses fund the recycling of the packaging waste that they place on the UK market.

By failing to register, and to take reasonable steps to recover and recycle packaging waste, the business avoided paying to offset their obligations based on how much packaging they handled the previous calendar year.

The money paid to the charity will help protect local wildlife habitats and wetland areas through its College Lake programme, near Tring, in Buckinghamshire. The contribution will go towards ongoing management of College Lake.

Any company handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year, and with a turnover in excess of £2 million, must register with the EA or a packaging compliance scheme and meet their responsibilities for recycling waste packaging. If companies fail to meet their obligations under environment law, the EA will take action to ensure that companies change their ways.

Source: Gov.uk

For the full article, click here

East London waste boss fined for obstructing site checks

The owner of a waste treatment plant in Barking barred environment inspectors from entering the site unless they handed over thousands of pounds.

The owner had twice refused entry to officers from the EA.

One of the officers called at the site in February 2023 to check operations were within the conditions of the environmental permit. The EA were concerned about the amount of waste stored at the site since the last visual check, six months before. The owner stopped the officer from entering the premises and demanded £500 and insurance documents from the officer before entering the site. The EA officer and a colleague went back two months later in April 2023. The owner denied the officers entry and demanded money. Following the second visit, the owner invoiced the EA for £1,500 “an inspection fee”. The EA does not pay any operator whose site it regulates.

The owner was summoned for an interview in July 2023 and the owner demanded hundreds of pounds to attend and wanted their travel costs paid. The interview never took place.

The court heard that between 24th February and 18th April 2023 the owner intentionally obstructed EA officers in “the exercise or performance of their powers or duties”.

The owner was charged with breaching sections 110(1) and 110(4)(b) of the Environment Act 1995 and the magistrates ordered the owner to pay £3,000 fine along with £3,000 in costs and a victim surcharge of £1,200 towards the cost of supporting victims and witnesses. The owner failed to attend the hearing at Barkingside magistrates court and was sentenced in absentia

EA staff have powers of entry to visit and inspect any location that holds a permit to operate, and the EA do not pay sites they regulate. Refusal to let inspections take place is a criminal offence.

Source: Gov.uk

For the full article, click here

Events

How Parliament can lead the fight against microplastics in UK waterways

5th March 2024, 12:30 pm to 13.30pm

An expert panel of politicians, campaigners and technology innovators will discuss how we tackle the crisis of microplastics in UK waterways.

Source: Eventbrite

To register, click here

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