Waste Management: Coronavirus

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 7th July 2020.

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Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Conservative, Windsor

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to support (a) Lakeside EfW and high temperature incinerator and (b) other waste industry organisations in providing services to local authorities and NHS trusts during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government is continuing to work closely with the waste industry, including operators of incineration and EFW plants such as Lakeside, to understand the impact of Covid-19 on the sector and to provide the necessary and appropriate support to ensure the provision of services.

The Chancellor announced unprecedented support for businesses in general, including a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, deferral of VAT payments for firms until the end of June and £330 billion of Government-backed and guaranteed loans including a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Early in the pandemic, Defra worked with the waste industry to develop an online platform to facilitate the sharing of resources between local authorities and commercial operators. The platform, WasteSupport, was launched on 16 April. In addition, the Environment Agency has been taking a proportionate approach to regulation and published a number of COVID-19 Regulatory Position Statements, to address specific concerns around compliance with permit conditions, for instance on exceeding waste storage limits at permitted sites. These can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/covid-19-regulatory-position-statements

Throughout the outbreak, we have worked closely with the NHS to monitor the position in relation to clinical waste. We have clear, sensible contingency plans in place and continue to keep the position under review.

Defra has worked with local government, other Government departments and the waste industry to produce and publish guidance to help local authorities manage their waste collection services and household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) during the Covid-19 outbreak. The guidance on reopening HWRCs was developed in conjunction with Public Health England and the Home Office and sets out how to operate HWRCs in a way that protects human health while maintaining safe systems of working. The HWRC guidance is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-to-local-authorities-on-prioritising-waste-collections/managing-household-waste-and-recycling-centres-hwrcs-in-england-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic

Since publication of our guidance nearly all local authorities are now able to offer a HWRC service and local householders can make trips to these sites as needed. Weekly surveys indicate that, due to the hard work of those in the sector, nearly all English authorities are operating household waste collections as normal, with only a small percentage reporting minor disruption.

The Minister for Regional Growth and I wrote to local authorities on 5 May to thank those working to deliver waste services during the Covid-19 outbreak for the vital role they are playing in protecting the environment, public amenity and people’s health. We wrote a further letter on 28 June asking local authorities to ensure that as much access as possible is provided to HWRC services where this can be done safely.

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