In 2012. the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) proposed the repeal of the construction Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP) regulations, subject to consultation on the impact of doing so. This was in response to the Government’s Red Tape Challenge, which was designed to remove unnecessary legislation to free-up business.
It should be remembered that Site Waste Management Plans were designed to encourage the effective management of materials and intended to ensure waste is considered at all stages of a construction project – from design through to completion.
This was firstly introduced as a DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) voluntary code of practice in July 2004 followed by legislation to make Site Waste Management Plans mandatory for all construction projects over £300,000 in England in 2008. These regulations were introduced for the purposes of formalising the approach for using such plans to reduce the waste produced by construction projects.
As stated in the Defra consultation, “In a rapidly changing world, this means considering different ways of achieving policy goals. There is potential to explore how alternatives to regulation can help us achieve the same, or better, environmental outcomes” with the supporting arguments from Defra given in the following bullet-points:
Repealing the regulations will provide business with the flexibility to use SWMPs as a tool, rather than a mandatory requirement. More explicitly, the benefits of repealing SWMPs are the avoided administration and implementation costs associated with maintaining SWMPs. Therefore, there is an estimated benefit of £20.3m over 5 years (an annual average of £4.1m). In Net Present Value terms this is £18.3m.
Business has already made strides to manage waste effectively on site and so the onus will increasingly be to reduce waste in the design process. SWMPs and guidance will still be available for those that find them useful. Landfill tax remains the most effective way to keep waste out of landfill
More work is needed to reduce the waste arising in the first instance with a greater emphasis during the design phase of construction is vital in achieving the aim. SWMPs tend to be produced after the design phase.
We support the industry’s focus on reducing construction waste by designing and managing it out, and the involvement of designers in the work of the Green Construction Board waste subgroup in delivering this aim.
In addition, the government will publish the first Waste Prevention Programme for England by December 2013 which will aim to support growth and help businesses to save money. This focus in prevention will help to reduce waste arising. Protecting and enhancing the natural environment is crucial to Britain’s long-term economic success and quality of life, and reducing waste is a key aspect of this.
One of the main benefits that Site Waste Management Plans were supposed to deliver was a drop in fly-tipping incidents. Evidence shows that as a proportion of Local Authority fly-tipping occurrences, construction waste has stayed at a fairly constant level from the years 2008-2012. Whilst construction-waste related incidents have decreased in number, this is in-line with the national trend and they have remained steady at nearly 6% of incidents throughout the period. For the regulations to be deemed successful, it would be anticipated that there would have expected an improvement above and beyond this prevailing trend. Therefore, Defra does not expect the repeal to have any adverse effect on fly-tipping.
In conclusion, it is important to reflect on the regulatory regime for waste, already, covers many of the SWMP requirements through the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 in terms of the Duty of Care, Waste Transfer Notes and the application of the waste hierarchy, which, if correctly implemented would require construction companies to determine the optimum management of their waste as a valuable resource rather than a waste for disposal.
If you want to review the consultation documents and comment to Defra before the end of the consultation period: 16 July 2013, please go to the following web-link: http://bit.ly/16ot3PN