DEFRA raises site waste management plan threshold

Regulations requiring construction projects to prepare site waste-management plans (SWMPs) will come into force on 6 April.1

But the Environment Department (DEFRA) has raised the value at which projects fall under the regulations to £300,000 (ENDS Report 387, p 43).

Last year, the Environment Agency, four unnamed government departments and 16 local authorities criticised the £250,000 threshold as too high to prevent fly-tipping (ENDS Report 393, p 41). DEFRA appears to have listened to the Federation of Master Builders instead, which said the plans would be an unnecessary burden on small business.

The regulations will require construction firms to measure the amount of waste reused, recycled and disposed of by a project and say where the waste is sent. More detailed information, such as copies of waste transfer notes, is required from projects worth above £500,000.

SWMPs have been voluntary since 2004, but DEFRA hopes making them mandatory will improve resource management in an industry that creates 109 million tonnes of waste per year - three times that of households.

DEFRA also published draft non-statutory guidance explaining the purpose of plans, how to make them and how they will be regulated.2 Final guidance will be published in April.

It also issued a cost-benefit analysis of the regulations and an overview of toolkits available to help draw up SWMPs.3,4

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