More Integrated Approach to Waste Infrastructure Needed

Align Planning System with Circular Economy Aims Urges ESA

The Environmental Services Association has published a report in which it sets out a number of recommendations to more closely align the planning system with the strategic objectives of the Circular Economy.

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waste recycling planning esa Markets & Policy

UK waste and recycling trade body, the Environmental Services Association (ESA), has published a report in which it sets out a number of recommendations to more closely align the planning system with the strategic objectives of the Circular Economy.

According to the organisation there is significant scope to improve the planning culture within many local authorities to give the industry the flexibility it needs to adapt to the new, sustainable business models shaped by the Circular Economy.

ESA’s new report, Planning for a Circular Economy, outlines key aspects of the planning regime which can often frustrate the industry’s efforts towards this aim.

Jacob Hayler executive director of the organisation said that it is vital for the UK’s future competitiveness that we move towards a Circular Economy, where manufacturers, retailers, businesses of all kinds, consumers and the waste and recycling industry work together to ensure that products and materials are made and used efficiently and then wherever possible reused or recycled for future use.

The report concluded that:

  • A more integrated approach to waste and energy policy. Local plans should include robust policies to support the UK’s transition to a largely decarbonised heat sector.
  • Planning authorities should seek to engage developers on draft conditions attached to planning consent prior to submission to planning committee.
    Waste management facilities process recyclable material to produce secondary resources for national and global commodity markets. Materials may flow through a number of different facilities across a broad geographical area in order to achieve the desired market specification.
  • A shift in planning culture should aim to help planners shrug off the strict “control regime” of the “landfill era” and instead recognise the transition in the waste and recycling industry.
  • While every effort should be made to push waste up the waste hierarchy, energy from waste and landfill both have a role to play in realising our Circular Economy objectives and provision should be made accordingly within local plans.
  • Sensible development proposals on closed landfill sites which meet wider sustainability and climate change objectives should be supported by local planning authorities
  • Policies designed to encourage housing supply should be sympathetic to the requirements of operational waste management development, and sites allocated for waste development.

“Many local authorities need to let go of the strict control culture that has prevailed in one form or another since the ‘landfill era’ and instead adopt a more responsive approach to planning for waste management which better recognises the variable and dynamic nature of the space in which our industry now operates,” explained ESA’s Policy Advisor, Stephen Freeland.

“Our industry increasingly resembles that of any other logistics business with materials moved around as markets dictate. Few other sectors face the same planning and political obsession about the origin of material or commodities, and where these should be transported to. To hamstring the resource and waste management industry in such a way will likely hamper investment and progress towards the objectives of the Circular Economy,” he continued.

The report is be available from the ESA website

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