22nd October 2014
In July 2013, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched its consultation on an updated national waste planning policy, providing a draft version of the policy for comment and outlining the Government’s commitment to:
The long-awaited Consultation Report has now been published, accompanied by the new ‘National Planning Policy for Waste’ (the Policy). This replaces ‘Planning Policy Statement 10: Planning for Sustainable Waste Management’ (PPS 10) and is to be considered alongside other national planning policy for England – such as in the National Planning Policy Framework (2012) (the NPPF), Defra’s Waste Management Plan for England (2013) and the National Policy Statements for Waste Water and Hazardous Waste (2012 and 2013 respectively).
Waste planning has long-been considered as a separate policy element, distinct from the general approach to planning. As a result, waste planning policy was specifically excluded from the NPPF. This reflects the Government’s focus on the planning system as vital in:
Since its introduction in 2005 (and revisions in March 2011) PPS 10 provided the main framework for local authorities in their development of localised strategies and waste management plans. Heralding a plan-led approach, PPS 10 focused on reducing waste, promoting use of waste as a resource, and facilitating protection of the environment and human health. It also gave some protection to Green Belt land, ensuring development of waste facilities only where these were deemed ‘appropriate’ when balanced against the broader potential economic and environmental benefits.
Whereas PPS 10 comprised over 25 pages of provisions, the new Policy reflects the Government’s ongoing aim for a more transparent, efficient and streamlined planning process. There are now just five pages of substantive policy.
The key provisions of the Policy include:
The Policy’s position regarding the Green Belt here does reflect the Government’s increasingly ‘tough’ approach to development on such protected land. In many ways, the Policy could be interpreted as introducing a sequential test – whereby planning authorities will first look for suitable sites / areas outside the Green Belt for WMFs “that, if located in the Green Belt, would be inappropriate development”.
The encouragement given to co-locate WMFs with complementary activities where possible is also particularly significant. The re-use of heat produced is specifically advocated, echoing the Policy’s wider encouragement for use of heat as an energy source. This means WMF developments are likely to be situated closer to existing sewage treatment works and / or urban areas, for example, to exploit the benefits of close location.
With such a short-form Policy document, it remains to be seen whether PPS 10 will still be used to provide interpretative assistance. It will also be interesting to monitor whether the Policy will achieve DCLG’s wide-ranging objectives and prove, as intended, to be “an easily understood waste planning policy framework…which can be followed by local authorities, waste developers and local communities alike”.