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Scotland's Zero Waste Plan: Consultation

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Annex - E - Role of land-use planning to deliver Zero Waste

The Waste Framework Directive

1. The revised EU Waste Framework Directive ( WFD) [Directive 2008/98/EC] 1 establishes the legislative framework for the handling of waste in the European Union.

2. The revised WFD lays down a number of requirements in relation to waste management and planning. Article 16 (1) lays down that:

"Member States shall take appropriate measures, in cooperation with other Member States where this is necessary or advisable, to establish an integrated and adequate network of waste disposal installations and of installations for the recovery of mixed municipal waste collected from private households, including where such collection also covers such waste from other producers, taking into account best available techniques."

3. The WFD lays down that Member States must have a National Waste Management Plan or Plans.

4. Article 28(3)(d) lays down that waste management plans must have:

"sufficient information on the location criteria for site identification and on the capacity of future disposal or major recovery installations, if necessary".2

5. Failure to comply with these requirements would mean that the UK would be in breach of EU obligations. This could lead to infraction proceedings from the European Commission.

The National Waste Management Plan for Scotland Regulations 2007 ( SSI 2007/251)

6. The 2007 Regulations 3 give the responsibility for preparing the National Waste Management Plan to the Scottish Ministers. This Zero Waste Plan, once finalised, will constitute the National Waste Management Plan. The 2007 Regulations lay down that until the Scottish Ministers have prepared a Plan, the Plan is constituted by policies and other text set out in:

  • The National Waste Strategy 1999.
  • The National Waste Plan 2003.
  • National Planning Policy Guideline 10. [Subsequently replaced by SPP 10 Planning for Waste Management.]
  • Planning Advice Note 63 [on Waste Management Planning].
  • Waste Data Digests.
  • The National Planning Framework.

Planning for waste management - meeting other EU obligations

7. European Union Directives also require Member States to achieve a number of targets to move away from landfill. Annex A to this draft Plan provides further details. In brief, the EU Landfill Directive requires Member States to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill. The revised WFD lays down a number of recycling targets. Meeting these targets, and domestic targets laid down by Scottish Government, will require more waste management infrastructure. As indicated in section 1.11 of the draft Plan, the Government is going to do more work on capacity planning ( i.e. on the number of waste management plants needed in the future).

What the EU obligations mean in practice for land-use planning

8. The EU requirements have a number of implications for the planning system:

  • Planning Policy issued by the Scottish Government must reflect the need for waste management infrastructure.
  • Locational criteria for waste management facilities must be provided in the National Waste Management Plan. This can be done either in the Plan itself, or by cross-referring to other guidance. (The Landfill Directive also lays down some specific locational criteria for landfill sites, as outlined in paragraph 25 below).
  • Development Plans prepared by local authorities must provide for the development of new waste management infrastructure, covering all forms of waste, not just municipal waste.
  • The planning system should encourage waste prevention (eg through Site Waste Management Plans).

9. The revised WFD also lays down a waste hierarchy: prevention; preparing for re-use; recycling; other recovery, eg energy recovery, and disposal. The land-use planning system can help Scotland comply with this hierarchy in a variety of ways, for example, by promoting waste prevention on construction sites.

10. Scottish Government is currently required to compile returns to the European Commission demonstrating the extent to which development plan policy on waste management is being updated. Reviews of progress have been published by the Scottish Government 4 and Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA) 5.

The Planning System in Scotland

11. The main primary legislation governing the land use planning system in Scotland is the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 6 and the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 7. The 2006 Act gave the National Planning Framework for Scotland 8 a statutory basis. The Framework sets out strategic development priorities to support sustainable economic growth, setting a vision for Scotland's development to 2030 and identifying 14 national developments.

12. Alongside the National Planning Framework, Scottish Government planning policy is set out the non-statutory Scottish Planning Policy ( SPP) series. This series, including SPP 10 Planning for Waste Management, is currently being consolidated into a single, shorter document. The draft consolidated SPP was published in April 2009 9. The final version will be published in late 2009. National planning policy on waste management is supported by Planning Advice Note ( PAN) 63, Waste Management Planning10.

13. The 2006 Act requires Strategic Development Plans ( SDPs) to be prepared for the 4 main city regions (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow). In those areas, the planning authorities will also prepare Local Development Plans. In the rest of Scotland, planning authorities will prepare only Local Development Plans. Those plans will set out the planning policies, priorities and land allocations for their areas. The Town and Country Planning (Development Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2008 11 require Planning Authorities to have regard to the National Waste Management Plan when preparing Strategic Development Plans and Local Development Plans.

14. The Town and Country Planning (Hierarchy of Developments) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 12 set out that waste management facilities handling more than 25,000 tonnes per annum of waste will be classed as major developments under the Government's new hierarchy of development. The Regulations include other development categories and they provide a proportionate and efficient approach to handling proposals that will also involve developers in carrying out community engagement before submitting applications. More information on pre-application consultation is provided in Circular 4/2009 Development Management Procedures 13. Good practise for community engagement is contained in PAN 81, Community Engagement14.

Locational criteria

General

15. Modern waste infrastructure is designed and regulated to high standards and is similar to other industrial processes. Appropriately located, well-run and well-regulated waste management facilities operated in line with current pollution control techniques and standards should pose little risk to human health. Locations which are appropriate for modern industrial development are therefore also appropriate for many waste management installations

16. Relevant considerations in the siting of installations will include proximity to sources of waste, the transport network, the relationship of intermediate transfer and treatment installations to tertiary waste management installations and , for thermal treatment plants, potential users of renewable heat. Where possible, facilities should be linked to tertiary waste management installations in a "hub and spoke" arrangement, preferably by rail or water.

17. In keeping with the proximity principle, which requires waste to be dealt with as close as possible to where it is produced, towns and cities will often be the best locations for new waste transfer, separation and handling installations. Appropriate sites for new installations, and for community composting and bring facilities where required, must be identified in development plans. Small scale and community facilities such as recycling centres and points cause little community disturbance and can be located in a wide range of locations, although care needs to be taken to ensure that bottle banks are well designed and located, to reduce any potential complaints about noise. Composting and anaerobic digestion facilities can often be located in rural locations.

18. A review of changes to permitted development rights is currently underway 15.

19. Development plans should also identify suitable sites for the processing of construction and demolition wastes. Suitable sites could include existing minerals workings or industrial sites. Existing operational waste management sites should be identified and protected by development plan policy, and allocations on adjacent sites should not compromise waste management activities which may operate 24 hours a day and partly outside buildings. SEPA hold information on all licensed sites and in their key agency role in development plan preparation will provide this information to planning authorities.

20. A buffer zone of about 250 metres between sensitive receptors (in most cases, dwellings) and operations may be appropriate where outdoor composting, anaerobic digestion, mixed waste processing, pyrolysis and gasification, large scale thermal treatment or landfill gas plant is to be located. However, that depends on each site and separation by about 100 metres or less may be sufficient for recycling facilities, small scale thermal treatment or leachate treatment plant. Greater separation distances may arise predominantly in connection with landfill sites.

21. Precise decisions on buffer zones should be taken on a site by site basis depending on a risk assessment. For example, distances from landfill sites are required due to landfill gas migration but an inert landfill site would not be expected to produce gas so a separation distance of more than 250 metres may not be required. The potential impacts from nuisances such as odour, noise and dust will also be risk assessed and appropriate planning and licence/permit conditions applied as necessary.

22. More information on locational matters is provided in PAN 63, Waste Management Planning.

Network of sites

23. In line with Article 16(1) of the Waste Framework Directive, new waste management facilities should demonstrate how they fit into and add to the existing network of facilities, to ensure that throughout Scotland a comprehensive waste management infrastructure is provided to deal with the needs of householders and business. For example, when a new energy from waste plant is proposed the developer should demonstrate how it relates to any existing or proposed "feeder" facilities such as waste transfer stations and should also outline the proposed capacity of the plant and the need for the plant.

Location of landfill sites

24. Landfill should be only used for residual waste remaining after all efforts have been made to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. Potential locations are former quarries, brown-field, contaminated or degraded land and areas where the landfill will result in restoration of land. Operational landfill sites should be identified and safeguarded in development plans.

25. Regulation 5 of the Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003 16 lays down that planning permission may only be granted when the location criteria laid down in paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 3 to the Regulations have been taken into consideration. These criteria are:

  • The distances from the boundary of the site to residential and recreational areas, waterways, water bodies and other agricultural or urban sites.
  • The existence of groundwater, coastal water or nature protection zones in the area.
  • The geological or hydro-geological conditions in the area.
  • The risk of flooding, subsidence, landslides or avalanches on the site.
  • The protection of the natural or cultural heritage in the area.

Energy from waste plants - the 25% cap

26. Scottish Government waste policy limits the amount of municipal waste treated in energy from waste plants. This cap is recognised in paragraph 168 of the National Planning Framework, which indicates that the cap is a material consideration in development management considerations. The NPF also indicates that further guidance would be provided on the cap: a draft is at Annex J.

27. The 25% cap is enforced through the planning system. Planning officers should therefore impose appropriate conditions or legal agreements on any consents issued to ensure new plants operate in line with the 25% cap and that future proposals do not result in over provision. SEPA should be consulted on relevant applications and will provide records from the operators relating to volumes and sources of waste to support decision makers. When energy from waste plants are granted planning permission, but not then built, SEPA will consider on a case-by-case basis how to respond to any further applications made which might lead to the cap being breached. For example, SEPA will provide factual information on the status of any application for a PPC permit and will also provide factual information on waste arisings in the area and how this waste is treated.

Energy from waste plants - SEPA's Thermal Treatment Guidelines

28. SEPA's Thermal Treatment of Waste Guidelines 2009 17 can be a material planning consideration and should be taken into account by planning authorities when preparing development plans and deciding planning applications. The Guidelines set out the importance of maximising efficiency of energy from waste plants by recovering both heat and power; ensuring the plants deal with residual waste only; and that new facilities are part of an integrated network of facilities.

29. Industrial sites with the potential for connection to the electricity grid and with potential users of the heat are likely to be suitable locations for energy from waste plants. Location will also be influenced by the source of the waste used. Development plans should also identify appropriate sites or the factors such as transport links that will be taken into account when deciding planning applications.

30. A heat plan should be provided by the applicant when planning permission is sought for energy from waste facilities. Sufficient space should be provided within the application site for any incidental equipment required to export heat from the site, including space for future pipe work taking heat off site. When new development is planned in the vicinity of an existing or consented energy from waste plant, developers and planning authorities should consider how best to ensure these new developments are designed and conditioned to use the heat, for example in district heating schemes.

Waste prevention at the design stage

31. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act contains a provision allowing Ministers to make regulations requiring persons of the kinds specified to prepare plans for the prevention, reduction, management, recycling, use and disposal of waste produced by or otherwise associated with their activities. Until such time as regulations are made on the provision of waste prevention plans in Scotland, planning authorities should continue to promote waste prevention and minimisation through the development plan and development management decisions. Advice is available from Envirowise. 18

32. Site waste management plans can be required as a condition of planning permission in order to manage waste on site. Guidance on producing a site waste management plan is available from SEPA19 and advice on drawing up and implementing these plans is available from Envirowise and the Waste and Resources Action Programme. 20

Ensuring other developments take account of waste management

33. Residential, commercial and industrial properties should be designed to provide for waste separation and collection. This is a matter for the Building Standards Regulations where internal space is required but for the planning system where any external issues arise from space formed as part of a development. Planning authorities should consider providing advice on what type of provision is expected, for example:

  • Amount of space required inside and outside the home to store and collect recyclate and residual waste.
  • Need for recycling centres and points.
  • Need for recycling facilities for flats and tenements.
  • Potential need for waste treatment facilities.
  • Access and maintenance arrangements

Involving waste managers in land-use planning

34. Local authority waste managers should be involved in the preparation of development plans and be consulted on relevant planning applications. Waste managers should advise on the existing provision in an area; likely future requirements for new facilities to deal with municipal waste in relation to the Authority's own waste strategy; and also how developers can make provision for collection, segregation and storage of waste within new development prior to treatment.

SEPA's role in land-use planning for waste management

35. The Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 makes provision for strategic development planning authorities and planning authorities to seek the views of key agencies in the preparation of strategic and local development plans respectively. SEPA has been designated as a key agency and will engage early in development plan preparation. Key aims are to help local authorities ensure that the need for waste management infrastructure is adequately reflected in development plans, to help Scotland meet EU and domestic targets on diverting waste from landfill and recycling. SEPA is also a statutory consultee on waste management development proposals.

36. In the absence of robust information on the number of waste management planning applications dealt with by planning authorities and the Scottish Ministers, SEPA keep a list of waste management planning applications on which they have been consulted.

37. SEPA work with planners and others to highlight how the planning system helps support the move to better ways of managing Scotland's waste 21.

SEPA's Requirements

38. SEPA encourage developers to apply at the same time for planning permission and the PPC permit or waste management licence ( i.e. "twin-tracking of both applications). However, SEPA will not object to planning applications on the basis that information required for environmental permitting is not forthcoming at the planning application stage. SEPA advice and comments in relation to planning applications is without prejudice to the subsequent application to SEPA for the relevant regulatory permit/licence.

39. SEPA have developed guidance for developers on the Best Practicable Environmental Option ( BPEO). 22

40. SEPA have also developed a checklist of the key issues which should be addressed with any significant waste management planning application to assist developers to submit planning applications with the information required for the public and consultees to properly comment. Key points are:

  • How does the facility work in simple terms - what goes in, what is done to it, and what comes out; where does the waste come from and where does the end product go to (including any residual waste left over)?
  • How does this compare with what currently happens to the waste?
  • What are the types and volumes of waste?
  • How the proposal facility fits into the existing network of waste management facilities.
  • How does the facility help deliver the central objectives of the National Waste Management Plan - to promote reduction, re-use and recovery of waste with only residual waste going to landfill?
  • How has the environmental amenity been safeguarded (this is standard to all planning applications)?
  • How will all value be extracted from the waste and how will a useful "product" be made (which can include the production of energy)?
  • Explanation of why this is the best practicable environmental option for the waste stream.
  • How does it fit with the relevant Area Waste Plan?
  • In the case of Thermal Treatment, how does the facility fit with SEPA's Thermal Treatment Guidelines?

SEPA's future role

41. SEPA are currently considering their future role in relation to waste management planning. SEPA, with the Scottish Environmental Services Association, held a seminar on this issue earlier this year. SEPA will issue detailed guidance later this year on their role in relation to waste management planning and the interaction between planning and environmental regulation.

42. Key principles for SEPA are:

  • a willingness to engage proactively with planning authorities to assist the development of modern, map-based development plans, including the provision of map-based advice, waste data and other information.
  • in the longer term, reduce engagement with waste management at the development management stage where proposals accord with up-to-date development plans that have been prepared taking on board the infrastructure requirements as identified in Area Waste Plans and the National Waste Management Plan.
  • a willingness to engage at the pre-application stage with major development proposals to help to deliver an integrated waste management infrastructure consistent with the Area Waste Plans and the National Waste Management Plan
  • identify at an early stage in waste management planning applications if there are likely to be any fundamental "show-stoppers" to save wasted effort. But on all issues generally adopt a solution-orientated approach.
  • review SEPA information requirements for waste management proposals at the planning application stage to identify those that are essential to the determination of the planning application
  • assist the development management process by provision of waste data and other information and by providing advice on the extent to which the proposals fit with Area Waste Plans and the National Waste Management Plan.
  • reduce SEPA regulatory information requirements for waste management proposals at the planning application stage.
  • encourage planning authorities to engage more closely with local authority waste management colleagues.

Information held by SEPA

43. Information held by SEPA relates to facilities licensed or permitted by SEPA. Some useful sources of information held by SEPA are:

  • Strategic Waste Management Reviews, undertaken on a waste strategy area basis. These provide information on all licensed facilities, their existing consented capacities and waste arisings. 23
  • National database of existing licensed facilities which can be used to call up facilities by, for example, Local Authority area. It contains information on the numbers and types of licensed/permitted waste management facilities in Scotland, the tonnages of waste they handle in a given year and, where available, their licensed/permitted capacities. 24
  • Landfill capacity report containing information on the numbers and types of landfills in Scotland, the tonnages of waste they landfill in a given year and, where available, their licensed/permitted capacities. It also gives an estimation of the remaining capacities 25.
  • Annual waste data digest. 26

Health and waste management plants

44. A partial Health Impact Assessment is at Annex K to this draft Plan. SEPA will comment on health issues if requested in their role as statutory consultee and Planning Authority Environmental Health officers should be able to provide input too. When dealing with licensing and permitting applications, SEPA will consult with the Food Standards Agency, the local authority, the Health Board and any other person that the Scottish Ministers may direct to ensure that any health issues are properly considered and dealt with. Once the plant is operational, SEPA will monitor and enforce standards as necessary.

Enforcement issues - relationship to SEPA controls

45. There may be concerns regarding the operation of waste management sites hence it is important to restore public confidence particularly in terms of effective enforcement to ensure protection of the environment and human health.

46. When commenting on major waste management applications, SEPA will advise on what matters they can control by licence or permit condition and subsequent monitoring and enforcement in order to provide clarity to planning authorities and developers and avoid duplication of controls. SEPA and planning authorities should work together on any subsequent enforcement issues to maximise effectiveness. Matters controlled under a waste management licence or pollution, prevention and control permit focus on:

  • Waste types and quantities
  • Site infrastructure
  • Treatment techniques
  • Processes and pollution controls
  • Emissions from the site to air, water or land.

Scottish Government
August 2009