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The targets for waste diversion still need to be achieved, and many waste & recycling facilities are working at near full capacity or soon to be doing so. As a result, new facilities are needed to meet targets and each one needs permits and planning applications in order to go ahead. However, there are several issues with doing so that can cause delays in their building.
The Structure of Local Government
A common issue that occurs before any development proposals are even brought forward is a disagreement and lack of cooperation between the local government stakeholders – County Council, District and Parish. It can take months or even years to get agreement between the differing tiers, with many months of negotiation and legal process. It takes a considerable amount of time for a facility to be designed, planned and built. In order to ensure that targets are met, protracted lead times must be factored in.
Roles and Responsibilities
There can sometimes be confusion with regard to the roles of those involved with permits and planning, which can also serve to delay the building of new facilities. Under waste planning and development control, there are Regional Assembles and Regional Technical Advisory Bodies (RTABS). RTABS currently hold a non-statutory role, providing input and information to the formulation of policy and strategy. Waste Planning Authorities (WPAs) are also in this group, their role being to prepare local development documents and enforce and grant planning permits. Finally, the District and/or Borough Councils are in charge of the enforcement and granting of planning permissions for activities considered to be mineral or non-waste.
For service delivery, there are a few key responsibilities. Waste collection authorities are responsible for arranging for waste collection, and must dispose of waste as directed. They are also charged with litter control and street cleaning, and must achieve best-value performance standards for composting and recycling.
Waste disposal authorities have many responsibilities also, which include providing locations for residents to take their waste to at no cost, achieving targets for the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill, and preparing a municipal waste management strategy.
Planning Permission Issues
The issues surrounding planning permission affect waste planning authorities as well as the waste industry.
Clarity is needed among waste planning authorities with regard to the role of BPEO assessments and when and how they should be applied in a development control context. As well, it is a challenge for WPAs to offer new planning guidance well enough in advance of legislative changes affecting waste management practices. The roles of the Environment Agency and waste planning authority could also benefit from clearer distinction.
In the waste industry, the role of BPEO as it pertains to proposals for new development may not have the clarity it should. The time delays caused by getting planning permission are also an issue for the waste industry, as they can lead to contractual headache and unreasonable costs. Proactive planning and lack of local guidance contribute to uncertainty, leading to further delays.
It needs to be stated here that the BPEO can and often does vary according to area, product and time, making it difficult to determine. One solution to ensuring that bigger facilities are constructed on time is to confirm that the planning application demonstrates the facility is consistent with a BPEO for management of waste streams. On the regional level, provisions should be made for facilities having the capacity to handle a waste supply of at least a decade.