Government launches landfill tradable permits consultation

In an attempt to cut landfill waste in England and Wales by two-thirds, the Government has launched a public consultation on a system of tradable landfill permits.


The scheme is designed to bring the UK into compliance with European Union rules which call for the amount of biodegradable municipal waste being landfilled to be cut to 35% of 1995 levels. Only waste disposal authorities would be able to hold or trade in the permits, and the Government intends that the scheme would allow any authorities choosing to invest in recycling to sell permits that they no longer required to those authorities remaining reliant on landfill.

In 1998/99, the English and the Welsh produced 28 million tonnes of municipal waste, 82% of which was sent to landfill, according to the consultation document. With space for landfill becoming increasingly scarce, but household waste increasing by 3% every year, the situation is causing increasing concern, says the document.

The scheme would mean that waste disposal authorities would retain the right to landfill a certain amount of biodegradable waste, with the permitted levels being reduced in order to meet three target dates: 75% of 1995 levels by 2010, 50% by 2013, and the final 35% by 2020. According to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), the proposed system would provide certainty in meeting European Union targets, would be easy to administer, whilst allowing for consistency and accountability.

“In Waste Strategy 2000 we announced that we would consult on the design and operation of a scheme of tradable landfill permits for waste disposal authorities to meet the landfill diversion targets,” said Environment Minister Bob Ainsworth on 27 March, in reply to a parliamentary question on the Government’s response to the 2000 waste strategy. “We have published that consultation paper today.”

The consultation document is available on the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) website, and responses should be made by 22 June 2001. Responses in England should be sent to landfilldirective_consultation@detr.gsi.gov.uk, or by post to: Landfill Team, DETR, Zone 7/F9, Ashdown House, 123 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6DE. Responses from those in Wales should be sent to: environment.division@wales.gsi.gov.uk, or by post to: Landfill Consultation, Environment 3, National Assembly for Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF1 3NQ.

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