The Environmental Services Association (ESA) said that overhauls to the UK’s planning system could boost waste and recycling capacity, helping the industry to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
A Planning Bill, anticipated later this year, is set to usher in a zoning-based system in which development in areas allocated for growth would be granted planning permission automatically by councils, providing that it complied with local codes.
ESA’s report, Planning for a Green Economic Recovery, calls for changes that would speed up development of waste and recycling infrastructure, and integrate waste planning more closely with mainstream planning.
Stephen Freeland, ESA planning policy adviser, said that modern recycling facilities now resemble mainstream industrial and logistics operations. They should not face additional operational restrictions through planning consent compared with similar industries.
He said: “Planning reforms should allow for a system which is more responsive to the needs of the modern waste management and which recognises the dynamic nature of our operations.”
The ESA argued that waste and recycling development should qualify for more streamlined planning approval if it is located in areas zoned for growth areas, and that waste and recycling should take a higher profile in local plans.
It noted that, with reduced reliance on landfill, much more material is crossing local authority boundaries for recycling or processing. Councils should desist from imposing catchment boundaries on waste treatment facilities.
Also, developers should be encouraged to take advantage of district heating opportunities from combined heat and power schemes.
The ESA is concerned by the proposal to remove the duty to co-operate from the local plan and plan examination process. It argued that waste management required a strategic, joined-up approach between neighbouring authorities.