Concerns raised over ‘confusing and complex’ waste legislation

The quality of waste legislation has been called into question as new research indicates certain policies are too complex, making them difficult to access, understand and apply.

The report, published jointly by the UK Environmental Law Association and King’s College London, has found that there is a perceived lack of understanding in practice about key legislative concepts.

These include the definition of waste and what constitutes ‘equivalent’ amounts of electronic waste under the WEEE regulations. Differences in policy approaches between England and Wales are also causing problems in waste regulation, such as cross-border market barriers.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the report found that legislation on waste regulation is creating a lack of substantive integration within Scottish law itself. In particular, there are connected obligations contained within disparate pieces of legislation relating to waste carriers and mining waste.

The research also highlights examples where attempts to make legislative schemes simpler have been welcomed, such as the Environmental Permitting Regulations in England and Wales. However, there are concerns that more guidance in this area has reduced transparency.

The study, which is an interim report, is part of a new research project investigating problems with the quality of environmental legislation throughout the UK. It asks if radical reforms are needed, such as setting up an Environmental Law Commission to oversee the quality of new legislation.

Maxine Perella

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