The Environment Services Association's recent report highlights that the waste industry and its practices are developing all the time, so planning conditions need to allow for flexibility to respond to customer and market requirements.

The ESA consider that sufficient control of activities is retained through the requirement for EIA for consented waste management facilities and other environmental permits, and planning conditions are too detailed and prescriptive.

In particular, waste facilities are increasingly specialised and require a large catchment area beyond a planning authority's administrative boundary to ensure efficiency and secure investment. Restrictions on catchment areas or mileage limits are likely to prove difficult to enforce and also place local recycling facilities at a commercial disadvantage.

I've blogged previously about the perils of conditions attempting to enlarge permissions beyond the extent of the original planning application, such as the Invergordon waste incineration plant where the condition permitting the processing of waste from other Scottish regions was invalid because the supporting information and EIA from the application stage only took account of waste coming in from the Highland Council area.

Notwithstanding this cautionary tale, the ESA's report emphasises the need for waste to be dealt with more effectively at a regional rather than a local level. If SDPs are removed as proposed, here is yet another reason - in the handling of waste and recyclates - that we need some way to facilitate co-operation and resource-sharing between local authorities to bring greater economic benefits.

With more than a hint of de-ja-vu, the overriding thrust of the report is that culture change, over substantive reform, is what is needed.


Victoria Lane

Senior Associate