DEFRA has conceded that the time is not right to ban wood waste from landfill. Backing its stance, it said the amount of material is likely to continue to decline without further intervention from the Government.
The department received 37 responses to its consultation on the issue, with input coming from trade associations, local authorities, and energy and waste management companies.
According to the consultation document, responses to the proposal were mixed. While the responses found that introducing a wood waste landfill restriction could move wood up the waste hierarchy and improve collection and sorting infrastructure there was a consensus that to introduce legislation now would be premature and that a continuation of landfill tax would suffice for the present.
In its analysis of the responses, it was deemed that landfill tax remains the main reason to divert wood waste from landfill. Some commentators argued that continuation of the tax escalator would effectively divert wood waste from landfill and negate the need for a restriction.
The document revealed that local authority bodies are opposed to the restrictions because of fears about enforcement, collection, sorting capability, and administration burden. And while energy companies and construction and demolition organisations supported a ban, they voiced concerns that any additional legislation will be an additional cost burden.
Timber trade organisations meanwhile argued for improved infrastructure for collection and disposal and further Government assistance to examine other routes such as segregation at source and recycling rather than energy from waste.
Proposals for a ban drew wide support from environmental interest groups but they also said that it should be part of a wider consideration in the disposal and management of biogenic waste.
Other concerns included a need for stricter definition of what constituted ‘wood waste’ and to ensure legislation was not rushed through so causing an increase in informal burning, fly tipping and illegal exports.