EIC assesses impact of the Landfill Directive on the remediation of contaminated land
According to the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), The EU Landfill Directive, shortly to be implemented through the UK Pollution Prevention & Control Regulations, will have major implications for local authorities' waste strategies across the UK. In the UK's progress to implementing the Directive, DEFRA has issued a second consultation paper on the implementation of the Landfill Directive, to which the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) is currently preparing its response.
One of the key elements of the draft Landfill Regulations, included in the
consultation paper as the Government intends to introduce the finalised regulations
quickly as the legislation is already late, is that new landfill sites will
have to be licensed under the regime from now on and existing landfills have
to be compliant with the regime within eight years.
Landfills are to be categorised into three classes – hazardous, non-hazardous
and inert. There will probably be very few hazardous waste landfills in the
UK and their “gate charges” will increase sharply, plus haulage distances
will probably rise. It will be especially important to minimise the volume of
contaminated soil classed as hazardous waste for disposal and to ensure that
the classification is correct. Contaminated soils will be identified as hazardous
waste in the EU Hazardous Waste List from 2002 if they contain “dangerous
substances” in concentrations such that the soil has certain hazardous
properties. This is a complicated classification procedure that needs simplification.
One way to help guide users through the complex classification procedure would
be the issuance of practical guidance from the EA, but none is actively in preparation.
Pre-treatment to reduce a classification from hazardous to non-hazardous will
be important in minimising disposal costs.
The higher landfilling costs will encourage the use of treatment or containment
options but the overall cost of remediation will frequently rise and may constrain
brownfield re-development, possibly placing the Government’s targets in jeopardy.
In-situ treatment should not be affected by the new regulations but, of concern,
the replacement of treated soil after ex-situ treatment may be considered as
waste disposal requiring a landfill permit.
The hazardous waste and in situ remediation issues are key to the UK’s contaminated
land remediation industry and EIC, which voices the remediation industry’s view
through its Contaminated Land Worksop Group, will be meeting the key DEFRA and
EA officials over the coming weeks to seek clarification on these issues and
alterations to the Regulations to ensure that they do not damage land remediation.