UROC was invited to Westminster by Dan Rogerson, MP for Resource and Environmental Management, on 20th January 2015 in relation to the Government’s proposals for tackling ‘Environmental Waste Crime and Poorly Performing Permitted Waste Sites’. Proposals were set out for a consultation document to be released as early as March 2015, which will invite suggestions from industry on how best to deal with issues that form part of the Government’s Waste Crime Action Plan.
Paul Leinster, Chief Executive for the Environment Agency, provided a detailed presentation of the statistics currently held by the EA. There are approximately 11,000 permitted waste sites of which 300 are seemingly poorly performing. The EA determines whether a site is poorly performing using the site’s OPRA Score. Any site that has a score of D, E or F is considered to be a poor performer. What UROC takes issue with is how the OPRA is calculated in the first place – which is on individual EA officers scoring an operator on each site visit. However, points don’t make prizes, to the contrary, high scores result in increased site visits, and more visits will inevitably result in more scoring, high scoring results in higher annual subsistence fees – and so the vicious circle continues! UROC’s response to proposed 300% – 500% increases for subsistence fees was covered in our January column.
The EA considers that increased charging will be one tool available to help shut down what they refer to as serial D, E and F OPRA sites. The three ways the EA sets out whether a site will be in D, E, F OPRA banding is as follows;
1. There is a lack of understanding of how the site should operate;
2. An operator is deliberately flouting permit conditions;
3. An operator has “drifted” into the poor performing Categories (not surprising if the EA keeps scoring the permit!).
For what are perceived as “high risk sites” the EA proposes to have ‘T-Junction’ discussions, which will be along the lines of “comply or we will shut you down”.
A range of measures will be suggested in the consultation document which are likely to include;
• Tougher enforcement policy with EA early intervention.
• Broadening EA powers to suspend and revoke permits.
• Non-payment of subsistence fees will be used as a mechanism to close sites down.
• EA to take physical steps to lock site gates.
• More education for users of skip hire services to ensure they understand their duty of care.
• Increased difficulty in relation to technical competence to prevent entry into the sector and remove operators who cannot pass more stringent tests.
• Impose liability on managers of sites not just directors.
• Increased use of the High Court to secure compliance.
• Introducing financial provisions to cover a site’s tonnage liability, e.g. bonds, escrows, insurance (some of you may recall this requirement for transfer stations was removed a number of years ago!).
• Further tightening of waste exemptions / possible removal of their use.
• Possible introduction of new criminal offences by October 2015.
The Government has made £5 million available to the EA to assist in tackling waste crime and poor performing sites.
The EA said that there are approximately 200 illegal waste sites and invite whistle blowing to assist them in closing non-permitted sites. UROC believes that the regulatory effort should be focused on these sites that deliberately undercut legitimate waste businesses and create a bad image for our sector. If you have any intelligence in relation to any operators who you think are illegally trading, please let us know and we can inform the EA.
UROC really needs your responses to the consultation as the measures proposed are hard hitting and we need to stand united to prevent the closure of legitimate companies that simply need support not punishment.
We will let you know when the consultation is released and look forward to receiving your comments in the meantime.