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New waste recovery guidance issued

The Environment Agency has recently issued new guidance on how operations involving the deposit of inert materials on land are classified. This update follows the outcome of a court case involving Tarmac at the end of 2015 at which the currency of EAs previous guidance, RGN 13 Defining waste recovery – permanent deposit of waste on land was called into question.

The distinction between recovery and deposit of inert waste is important for the restoration of quarries and other landscaping uses. If the restoration of a quarry could be shown to be a recovery operation then it is not a landfill and the strictures of the Landfill Directive would not apply. In the Tarmac case the court found that the EA should have issued a recovery permit for the restoration of a Quarry. The Court found that if an obligation, such as a Planning Permission imposed by a regulator required the restoration of a quarry the substitution of suitable waste material was automatically a recovery operation unless there was evidence that the regulator would not insist on compliance with the obligation. Previously the EA required an applicant to demonstrate that the restoration could be carried out with a non-waste if the waste material was not available prior to accepting the operation as a recovery one.

The new Waste Recovery Guidance updates the EA’s positon in line with this judgement and has potentially significantly implications for the restoration of quarries and other sites using inert waste to complete landscaping or noise bunds. Although it is yet to be seen how the guidance will work in practice it would appear that many quarry restorations will now be done via a recovery permit rather than potentially a landfill (deposit) one.

If you wish to discuss the implications of this new guidance please contact us on 01480 462 232.