1 Introduction

The Site Waste Management Plans Regulations 2008 are due to come into force on 6 April 2008.

The aim of these Regulations is to protect the environment, reduce the amount of waste that is produced by building and renovation projects and encourage the recycling of materials. The hope is that all this will mean a reduction in the amount of construction waste going to landfill and in fly-tipped construction waste.

In the consultation exercise which led to these Regulations, the Government stated that about one fifth of all construction and demolition wastes ended up fly-tipped somewhere – about 20 million tonnes per year!

2 What do the Regulations cover?

The Regulations will only apply in England and will affect anyone planning a “construction project” costing more than £300,000.

“Construction project” includes any building, or construction work, building maintenance, alteration, decoration and demolition.

The impact of the Regulations will be felt far and wide, although they will not apply to projects which are also “Part A installations” as defined in the new Environmental Permitting Regulations1 or to projects planned before 6 April 2008, which begin before 1 July 2008.

3 What do the Regulations mean for business?

Any person (called “the client” in the legislation) who intends to use one or more contractors must appoint a principal contractor who will be responsible for carrying out the requirements of the Regulations. If no contractors are appointed, the responsibility will lie with the client carrying out the project on their own behalf. (See Regulation 4).

Any project falling within the Regulations must have a site waste management plan (“SWMP”) before construction works begin. If a project is started without a plan, both the client and the principal contractor are likely to be guilty of an offence.

A SWMP must identify the client, principal contractor and the author of the plan. It must describe the site, the estimated cost of the project and any prior discussions which have taken place about construction methods, design and materials employed. A SWMP must describe the type and quantity of waste expected to be produced and explain the how each type of waste is going to be dealt with. It should also include declarations that all reasonable steps will be taken to ensure all waste is dealt with in accordance with the waste “duty of care” obligation (at section 34 of the Environment Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991) and that materials will be handled efficiently and waste managed properly.

The SWMP must be updated as so as to reflect the progress of a project.

For construction projects costing between £300,000 and £500,000, whenever waste is removed from site, the principal contractor will need to record the identity of the person removing the waste, the types of waste removed and the disposal site to which the waste is taken. In addition, within three months of completion of such a project, the principal contractor will need to go back to the SWMP and confirm, among other things, that it was monitored regularly to ensure work was progressing according to the SWMP. Any deviation from the original plan will need to be explained.

The requirements are for construction projects costing over £500,000 are more expansive. The principal contractor will, at least every six months, have to review and update the SWMP and record information relating to, for example, the amount of waste produced, the amount recycled and the amount sent to landfill. In addition, within three months of completion of such a project, the SWMP will need to be amended so as to include, among other things, an estimate of the cost savings that have been achieved by completing and implementing the SWMP, an explanation of any deviation from the SWMP and confirmation that it was monitored regularly to ensure work was progressing according to the SWMP.

All SWMPs must be kept on site for 2 years after the completion of a project.

4 Penalties

The Regulations can be enforced by both the Environment Agency and local authorities.

A person who is found guilty of an offence under the Regulations could face a fine of up to £50,000 in the Magistrates’ Court or an unlimited fine in the Crown Court. (Following representations by interested parties, including the waste management industry, there are no custodial penalties under the Regulations.) Regulators can impose £300 fixed penalty fines for failure to produce a site waste management plan on demand.

The table here is taken from DEFRA’s recent informal consultation on non-statutory guidance for site waste management plans and sets out the offences and penalties.

5 Advantages for business

It is expected that SWMPs will help construction project managers to reduce costs by managing their materials and supplies more efficiently. SWMPs could also assist businesses to avoid breach of other waste legislation, such as the duty of care, by ensuring they have a record of how waste is disposed of, recycled or recovered. It will be easier to locate information as it will be contained in one document.

6 Further Information

A guide to SWMPs can be found on the Netregs website.

Click here for a copy of the Regulations.

Click here for DEFRA’s informal consultation on the SWMP non-statutory guidance.

Click here for a SWMP template, prepared by WRAP (Waste Resources Action Programme).