New waste powers considered for Mayor of London

Greater powers on waste management and planning are among a package of proposals designed to give the Mayor of London more influence in a consultation by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.1

London's waste arisings are forecast to rise from 17 million tonnes in 2001 to 23-26 million tonnes in 2020. But its recycling performance lags behind much of the country and 70% of its municipal waste is exported to landfill sites largely outside the capital.

According to the Greater London Authority, the capital will need an additional 5 million tonnes of recycling and recovery capacity by 2020 to achieve its landfill diversion targets and become self-sufficient in waste management.

However, the current arrangements for waste management can be a barrier to progress, says the ODPM, with some local authorities acting independently and in conflict with each other. This can confuse the public, as well as failing to take advantage of more efficient use of resources and expertise under joint working arrangements.

The ODPM suggests three options for changing waste management and waste planning:

  • First is the Mayor's proposal for a single waste authority (SWA) for London, functioning within the GLA (ENDS Report 332, p 17 ). The Mayor would be responsible for both this body and for waste planning, with powers to identify specific sites through a regional waste plan and to undertake development control functions for waste and compulsory purchase of land.

  • The second option is an SWA to sit alongside a single statutory waste planning authority. Each body would comprise a committee of representatives from the boroughs and a representative of the Mayor. These would not be responsible to the Mayor.

    With options one and two there are a number of variations regarding the SWA, including whether it should have operational and strategic responsibility for waste collection as well as disposal, and whether it should be responsible for non-municipal as well as municipal waste.

  • Third is the option of extending the sub-regional arrangements currently operating in some parts of the capital, and creating statutory sub-regional joint waste planning authorities.

    A related option for waste planning would be to allow existing sub-regional JWPAs to retain their development control functions, but enhance the Mayor's planning powers. This would be done by allowing the Mayor to make site allocations, giving him powers to determine strategic waste applications and allocating him powers to direct over local plans and documents.

    On wider planning policy, the ODPM asks whether the Mayor should be given significant new powers allowing him to direct boroughs on local plans and become the development control authority for defined classes of strategic planning application or in relation to defined strategic sites.

    Alternatively, the Mayor could be given more limited powers, enabling him to direct boroughs' local plans only in relation to certain issues and be able to decide specific categories of strategic planning applications.

    The Government is committed to implementing the outcomes of the review at the earliest opportunity.

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