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Government waste review moots community benefits protocol

The Government has signalled its interest in the waste industry developing an industry protocol on community benefits in similar fashion to the wind generation sector.

Also on the agenda is the possibility that local areas could benefit more directly from the business rates paid by waste facility companies.

Those ideas were highlighted in a waste policy review published by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), which acknowledged new waste facilities often have a hard time obtaining planning permission and community backing.

The government has said it will provide better information of waste technologies to help local authorities faced with projects.

The review stated: “We want to reach a stage where, as a result of effective engagement, applications which reach the formal planning process should present local politicians with the best possible evidence and a less polarised debate.”

“With more informed debate there will also be a greater expectation that those local politicians will take responsibility for these difficult decisions to ensure the waste produced by the communities is properly managed”.

The review stressed the need for councils to work together and look at waste management needs across different waste streams and across administrative boundaries.

It stated: “The Localism Bill will introduce a duty to cooperate for local authorities, which will help ensure that opportunities to explore such trans-boundary options are not missed”.

The review added: “There is no requirement for individual authorities to be self-sufficient in terms of waste infrastructure and transporting waste to existing infrastructure to deliver the best environmental solution should not be considered a barrier.”

The review gives priority to “reduce, reuse, recycle” in managing waste but also supported energy from waste (EfW) schemes.

The review states: “Our aim is to get the most energy out of genuinely residual waste, not to get the most waste into energy recovery.”

Also published by Defra was an anaerobic digestion (AD) strategy and action plan which highlighted the Coalition’s expectation that sewage sludge and food waste would increasingly undergo treatment by AD and produce “green” energy.

The government has confirmed that it will not lower the current 50 megawatt threshold for schemes which will be handled by the new major infrastructure planning regime.