DEFRA considers removing exemptions

DEFRA is proposing to limit the number of waste exemptions that any one operator can register or potentially remove exemptions completely in the latest industry consultation launched last month.

In January, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published proposals to tackle waste crime in England and Wales, blaming criminal activity and poor performance in the waste industry for undermining efforts to improve resource efficiency

Currently, there are 59 types of exemptions, 57 regulated by the Environment Agency and National Resources Wales and two by local authorities.

DEFRA proposes to either limit the number of exemptions that an operator can register at a single location to three for waste operations and eight for agriculture, or alternatively completely remove exemptions and expand the standard rules permit rule set to encompass the exemption processes.

Under the proposals to limit exemptions, exempt activities will not be allowed to be registered and operated within a permitted area. If exemptions are registered by an operator and operated outside the permitted area but are in conjunction with operations in the permitted area, this will not be allowed. Either the permit should be varied to include these activities or the exempt operations should cease. Exception to this would be if the exemption covered waste that had been produced by the operator.

Proposals follow a 2016 study of various types of exemptions by the Environment Agency which suggested that 30% of 589 sites were being run illegally.

The consultation closes on 15th March. Responses can be given here.