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'Softly softly' waste plan enforcement expected

Enforcing the requirements for contractors to have site waste management plans (SWMPs) is expected to vary between different parts of the country when they come into force next month, it was revealed last week.

Speaking at NCE's Waste Summit last Wednesday, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs head of fly-tipping and construction waste Andy Gregory said it would be at a local authority's discretion to actively begin investigating construction sites to ensure the use of accurate SWMPs.

"The Environment Agency and local authorities are the enforcing bodies, and they will take a risk-based approach," said Gregory.

"There are some that don't know a great deal [about SWMPs and enforcing them], and others, for example Cambridgeshire County Council, that are interested in enforcement to combat fly-tipping."

All projects valued £300,000 and above will be required to have a valid SWMP from 6 April.

SWMPs must set out the types and volumes of waste expected and propose action to manage and reduce waste levels. But there will be no set format or generic form.

Failure to produce a valid SWMP will result in an on the spot fine of £300, although magistrates courts can impose fines of up to £20,000.
Gregory added that the enforcement would only target sites suspected of fly-tipping.

In general the Environment Agency and local authorities will take a "softly, softly" approach.

"On sites where there is no question that fly-tipping is taking place but if a contractor fails to produce an accurate and valid SWMP, rather than fine the firm the local authority will work with the firm to help them improve their waste management," said Gregory.

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