Waste “Crisis Centres” Is “Sensible Contingency Planning” For No-Deal Brexit

Establishing waste “crisis management centres” is sensible contingency planning in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, according to SUEZ, following reports of leaked Environment Agency emails.

Reports by The Guardian on Friday (1 February) claim leaked emails show Environment Agency (EA) officials are asking for 42 volunteers to staff “crisis management centres” that would deal with waste incidents in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

A no-deal Brexit would mean waste import and export licences issued by the UK, under EU waste shipment regulations, would no longer be valid from the date of the UK’s departure from the EU (29 March), for the shipments of waste to the 27 remaining EU countries.

Environment Agency (EA) officials suggest “leaking stockpiles could cause pollution”, according to The Guardian.

It reported the EA is also concerned that if farmers cannot export beef and lamb, a backlog of livestock on farms could cause “liquid manure stores to overflow”. A senior MP said the problems could cause a “public health and environmental pollution emergency”, the newspaper reported.

The leaked emails follow a letter sent from Environment Secretary Michael Gove to Lord Teverson, chair of the European Union Energy and Environment Sub-Committee, in which Gove revealed that EA staff are engaging with operators to identify where issues, including stockpiling, may arise in a no-deal Brexit eventuality.

Congestion and Paperwork

In response, technical director at Suez Recycling and Recovery UK – who leads Brexit planning for Suez – Stuart Hayward-Higham, said the EA looking into “crisis management centres” is “sensible” contingency planning.

“The EA is just putting things in place in case of need,” he said.

“Currently a no-deal Brexit would mean import/export licences issued by the UK under EU waste shipment regulations would no longer be valid from the date of the UK’s departure from the EU, for the shipments of waste to the 27 remaining EU countries.

Stuart Hayward-Higham, Suez – “Obviously, port congestion and additional paperwork may be an issue depending on the version of Brexit ultimately chosen but we are working to minimise these Impacts where we are able.”

“However regulators and companies are working through Article 17 permissions that would allow exports to continue in most circumstances.

“The UK deals with most of its residual waste domestically however it does export a proportion of its residual, non-recyclable, waste as refuse derived fuel (RDF) to be used by power stations on the continent to generate much-needed electricity and heat. We are working towards solutions that mean UK RDF waste exports will not face undue disruption.

“Obviously, port congestion and additional paperwork may be an issue depending on the version of Brexit ultimately chosen but we are working to minimise these Impacts where we are able.

“We start from a common point – the rest of the EU would like our material and we in the UK would like to send them our material.”


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  1. I’ve heard some daft proposals for planning for a ‘no deal’ Brexit) but surely this must top the list!
    What a load of baloney.
    When will we be hearing about the impending plagues of locusts, boils, sexually-transmitted diseases etc promised by the remainers?
    Get real folks, leaving the EU is the best thing to happen to the UK (as was the Scottish decision to remain in the UK) in years, so just get on with it!

  2. I think it is way beyond time that central government and the Guardian put more effort and policy in making the U K 100%more self reliant and create the robust circular economy. We should make it our urgent aim to be a world leading less polluting recycling nation, instead of being a dependant helpless child of the E U and create thousands of new jobs here. We can then export our know how to the rest of world and really make a difference. How long do we have to wait?

  3. No deal would be great – finally the impacts of dealing with the whole waste life cycle would hit home! Maybe we would stop buying so much crap and designing out waste would finally kick in 🙂

    The article states the majority of residual waste is dealt with domestically but there would be no concern if the export % was so low. Thinking here – what are the real numbers???

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