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Waste Management: Energy

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 19 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she gives to local authorities on the assessment of the viability of new energy from waste developments with particular reference to (a) the effect on recycling targets and (b) environmental standards of those developments. (210359)

I have been asked to reply.

Waste Strategy 2007 sets out our policy on energy from waste, and provides guidance on the various energy from waste technologies, their different feedstocks, carbon emissions, and outputs. These are described in the ‘summary guidance on energy from waste technology’ (Annex E of Waste Strategy 2007).

New incinerators have to meet the requirements of the Waste Incineration Directive (200/76/EC), Article 6(6) which requires that

‘any heat generated by the incineration or the co-incineration process shall be recovered as far as practicable’.

Guidance published by DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government was first issued in early 2003 and deals with this, and all other requirements of the Waste Incineration Directive.

However, technology choice is ultimately a matter for local authorities, and not DEFRA. Any plans for new energy from waste facilities must emerge out of local waste strategies, so that all options for reuse, recycling and composting can be explored first. We expect greenhouse gas emissions to be a key consideration of those developing waste to energy plants.

Experience from many other European countries has shown that a vigorous energy from waste policy is compatible with high recycling rates (e.g. Netherlands 65 per cent./33 per cent.; Sweden 42 per cent./45 per cent.; Denmark 41 per cent./55 per cent.).

All municipal waste incinerators are tightly regulated under the Waste Incineration Directive (WID) to protect public health and the environment. Emission standards for incinerators are tighter than for conventional power stations.

With regard to energy from waste projects undertaken as part of DEFRA’s Waste Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funding scheme, the current Waste PFI criteria were issued in May 2006. Projects must meet these criteria in order to be considered for PFI credits. The criteria aim to ensure that PFI credits are allotted to projects that are value for money and enable the investment in residual waste infrastructure necessary if the demanding targets in the Landfill Directive and Waste Strategy for England 2007 are to be met.

The following criteria are included:

2. PFI credits are awarded to authorities primarily to deliver increased diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill. Proposals should demonstrate how the schemes:

contribute to or complement longer-term national targets for recycling and composting as well as diversion of biodegradable and other municipal waste from landfill, indicating the amount of biodegradable and other municipal waste expected to be diverted from landfill over the whole life of the project;

support or complement the authorities' plans for recycling set out in their Municipal Waste Management Strategies.

5. The use of residual waste treatment options involving recovery, including energy from waste solutions, will have an integral role in treating the waste we cannot ‘design out’, re-use or recycle. Such options should be considered while also demonstrating that there is no future barrier to meeting reduction, reuse and recycling targets.

6. Proposals should demonstrate that other relevant authorities, the public, and interested parties have been consulted and that there is a broad consensus supporting a recognised long term waste management strategy which is reflected in the proposed solution.

10. Preferential consideration will be given to capital projects which focus on residual treatment plant only, including, but not limited to, Energy from Waste, Mechanical Biological Treatments and Anaerobic Digestion.

The full criteria are available at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/localauth/funding/pfi/pdf/pfi-criteria-aug08.pdf