Today’s entry reports on the publication of the Hazardous Waste National Policy Statement.

It should be a busy week for infrastructure planning - today a decision was due from the IPC as to whether it would continue with Covanta Energy's application for an energy from waste project near Merthyr Tydfil but there is no sign of it yet.  The House of Lords were due to debate the infrastructure planning amendments to the Localism Bill but it looks as though they will not reach them until next Wednesday and may even reduce their summer holidays by a day to finish the committee stage the following day.

One development that has actually happened today is that the Hazardous Waste NPS was published for consultation by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).  This covers projects that will be able to dispose of at least 100,000 tonnes of hazardous waste to landfill or deep storage per year, or any other form of processing or disposal with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes per year.

The following points are worth making about this threshold:

  • projects that generate energy from waste such as the Brig y Cwm proposal come under the Renewable Energy NPS, being finalised next week, rather than the Hazardous Waste NPS;
  • other non-hazardous waste projects do not currently come within the Planning Act regime; and
  • hazardous waste project applications do not yet have to be made to the IPC - according to the draft, the 'switch-on' date will be October 2011.  Until then, they will continue to be the subject of ordinary planning applications plus associated applications such as hazardous substances consent.  

The draft is here and the consultation page is here.  Public consultation is now open until 20 October.  Responses can be emailed to HIWU@defra.gsi.gov.uk

The statement says that a small number of above-threshold projects will be needed in the following categories, with the scale of the need indicated.  Development of such facilities, like energy projects, should proceed 'on the basis that need has been demonstrated':

  • waste electrical and electronic equipment plants (a small number);
  • oil regeneration plant (at least one);
  • treatment plants for air pollution control residues (maybe);
  • thermal desorption (60-120k-tonne capacity needed);
  • bioremediation / soil washing to treat contiminated soil diverted from landfill (new facilities needed now);
  • ship recycling facilities (a mixture of above and below-threshold facilities), and
  • hazardous waste landfill (maybe - a last resort).

Unlike the Nuclear Power and Waste Water NPSs, the draft does not set out any particular projects that are expected.  The draft goes on to give locational considerations for applicants for each type of infrastructure, and then the usual list of impacts that applicants should assess and the IPC should consider when examining the application.

The corresponding (EFRA) Select Committee of the House of Commons has been quick off the mark, and is calling for evidence for its scrutiny of the NPS, to be received by 26 August.