HC Deb 15 July 1997 vol 298 cc128-9W
Mr. Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if he will make a statement on his policy on the use of incineration plants to change waste into energy; [7614]

(2) if he will make a statement on his policy in respect of the importation of waste for incineration in United Kingdom waste to energy incineration plants. [7615]

Angela Eagle

[holding answer 14 July 1997]: The Government believes that the recovery of energy from waste, for example through incineration, can play an important part in sustainable waste management practices, as part of a general effort to move up the hierarchy of waste management options. It should, however, play its part within a wider context in which reduction, re-use and recycling of waste are favoured. It is also essential that both new and existing incinerators meet stringent emissions standards to protect public health and the environment.

On the specific issue of the transfrontier shipment of waste, policy is set out in the United Kingdom Management Plan for Exports and Imports of Waste. Under the Plan, which is legally binding throughout the United Kingdom, imports of waste for genuine recovery operations are allowed, as long as they comply with the technical criteria set out in the Plan, and subject to the controls set out in Council Regulation (EEC) No.259/93 on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community.

In the case of imports to a waste-to-energy incineration plant, the tests set out in the Plan which will be applied by the competent authority in coming to a decision as to whether the import is for genuine recovery or not are as follows:

  1. (a) that the primary purpose of the facility is for the dual function of incinerating waste and generating energy, rather than the disposal of waste;
  2. (b) that the calorific value of the waste input should be at least 11,000kJ/kg, calculated by reference to a representative sample of the waste; and
  3. (c) that the heat generated/energy recovered must be used either by the operator himself or by third parties.

Competent authorities should also have regard to the nature of any contamination of the waste in the light of the guidance in the Plan.

These criteria are intended to limit opportunities for incorporating wastes into fuels without benefit to the calorific value or the burning characteristics of the waste, simply to avoid the costs of disposing of those wastes in the country where they are produced.

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