UK: Waste And Renewable Resources eBulletin - June 2009

Last Updated: 14 March 2011
Article by Michael Krantz

In this issue:

  • Defra grants £10m for AD demonstration projects
  • Landfill Tax Consultation
  • Waste becomes product earlier
  • Waste and Renewable Resources Survey

Our specialist waste and renewable resources sector team, including lawyers and planning consultants, provides a complete range of services for the waste and renewable resources industry.

In this edition, we will look at some of the issues which might affect your business including Defra's Anaerobic Digestion Programme, the Landfill Tax Consultation and the new Environment Agency classification of 'recovered' materials.

We are hosting a Breakfast Seminar on 26 June with Charles Hendry Esq MP, Shadow Minister for Energy as the keynote speaker, and he will be talking about the Energy Challenge we are facing in the UK. Delegate places for our Breakfast Seminar are free so please book your place as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Please click here for further information about the seminar.

We are also conducting a survey and would like to find out your view on the energy challenge issues. The results of the survey would be announced at the Breakfast Seminar on 26 June.

I hope you find this eBulletin useful and interesting.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions about any other information that you would like to see in the eBulletin or any other way in which we can improve it.

DEFRA GRANTS £10M FOR AD DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced this week that five anaerobic digestion projects across the country will share £10m in grants under Defra's Anaerobic Digestion Programme. The grants are made to help with the cost of construction and will be administered by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

The grants are made as part of wider plans announced this [last] week to tackle food and packaging waste - last year the UK produced 20 million tonnes of food waste and 10.7 million tonnes of packaging waste.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) breaks down organic matter such as food waste and animal manure to produce biogas, diverting waste from landfill and producing a renewable energy source for power and in some cases heat and transport.

Defra considered that the successful applicants each demonstrated cutting edge technology, which will help highlight the benefits of AD to a wide range of industries. For example, one of the successful bidders, Biocycle South Shropshire, will use its share of the grant to improve its existing AD plant by installing a new technology which breaks down cell structures prior to digestion, increasing gas yields by up to 15%. The other successful bidders were:

  • Blackmore Vale Dairies;
  • GWE Biogas Ltd;
  • Staples Vegetables;
  • United Utilities and National Grid


DMH Stallard is currently providing legal and planning advice to a large dairy farm in Cornwall on its application to install an anaerobic digester at its 1000 acre farm.

Some in the industry might question why there is an apparent preference on the part of Government to fund AD projects whilst the rolling out of other technology such as gasification is held up for lack of finance.

LANDFILL TAX CONSULTATION

HM Treasury and HMRC have launched a joint consultation document on changes to Landfill Tax (LFT). LFT is widely credited with creating a major shift in behaviour towards recycling and it is said that over the last five years, 33.8 million tonnes of rubbish which would otherwise have been sent to landfill has been recycled saving £1.5Bn.

The aim of the tax is to encourage the disposal of less waste; to recover more value from waste through recycling and composting, and to stimulate moves to more environmentally friendly waste management methods. It is seen as the key driver of the UK's move away from using landfill disposal and the main hope of meeting European waste targets under the Landfill Directive in 2010, 2013 and 2020.

However, concern is now being expressed at the proposed changes.

It has been pointed our that whilst the increase in tax is mooted, together with a review of the materials likely to attract the higher rate of tax, there is no indication as to how the tax raised will be fed back into the industry and local authorities.

There is concern that Landfill Tax which was originally said to be "tax neutral" and used to fund reductions in NIC for businesses will become just another stealth tax, like road tax. This is echoed by the Local Government Association, which is urging the government to ring fence the tax receipts, so that they can be applied to provide improved recycling facilities.

Suspicion that the proposed changes are more related to "tax take" than achieving waste targets, may be fuelled by the consultation paper itself, which refers in some detail to the recent Court of Appeal decision which held that certain uses of materials at landfill sites were exempt from LFT, and the legislative changes which are now required to reverse this decision.

DMH Stallard will be responding to the Consultation Paper reflecting the views of attendees to our seminar on 26th June, when the key note speaker will be Charles Hendry, Shadow Minister for Energy.

For more details, search 'Landfill Tax' on www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

WASTE BECOMES PRODUCT EARLIER

The Environment Agency (EA) recently announced a change in the point at which waste materials are classed by them as 'recovered' and are therefore recognized by the EA as being outside of waste controls.

Previously, waste management controls were sometimes applied by the EA until the product had been dispatched to the customer – the "certainly of use" test. However, following an EA briefing note released in April, which had immediate effect, the EA will now apparently always consider processed material as product as soon as all of the other criteria in the relevant Quality Protocol have been met.

This means that there will be no distinction in the EA's position between processed material which meets a relevant Quality Protocol and is being stored and that which has been sold or supplied. The recovered product must be stored in a way that conforms with other planning and environmental requirements and, if the material is stored for a very long time with little prospect of its being used, it may be regarded as having been discarded and become waste again.

The Waste Protocols Project, a joint EA and WRAP initiative, has, since 2006, been working to provide certainty on when a waste product is classed as recovered and can be reused as a product, avoiding unnecessary landfill or the need for a permit to use it. It has, so far, issued Quality Protocols defining this point for compost, flat glass and non packaging plastic. Prior to that project there was and is a WRAP Quality Protocol for aggregates which the EA generally recognises. Nine further Protocols are in development for other product types including, tyre-derived rubber, anaerobic digestate, processed fuel oil and, most importantly, soils.

The Quality Protocol for soils is eagerly awaited by the industry. DMH Stallard is advising clients in a number of cases where the client's position that their processed soils have become a product is being challenged or investigated by the EA. In a further case we are acting for a client company that is being prosecuted by the EA for allegedly keeping waste without a permit and the company's defence is that the material being processed soils was no longer waste and had become a product. That defence is supported by two leading experts. Preliminary issues of law are due to be heard in the Crown Court later this year.

WASTE AND RENEWABLE RESOURCES SURVEY

Complete the survey and win a bottle of wine!

The White Paper on Energy published in May 2007 highlighted the two long-term energy challenges including tackling climate change and ensuring clean and affordable energy.

We would like to find out your view on the energy challenge and renewable resources. The results of the survey would be announced at the Breakfast Seminar on 26 June with Charles Hendry Esq MP, Shadow Minister for Energy as the keynote speaker.

This survey will take about 3 minutes to complete, please click the link below to view the survey:
http://www.smart-survey.co.uk/v.asp?i=12188elmuq

Thank you for taking the time to read and complete this survey. We will add all completed surveys into a prize draw and the winner will receive a bottle of wine of their choice from our friends at St Martin Vintners, up to the value of £45.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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