Scotland parts with Whitehall policy on waste oil burners

Scotland has adopted a different interpretation of the EU incineration Directive which will mean that, unlike in England and Wales, vehicle repair shops will not be able to burn waste oil after 2006. The policy also means that the use of small incinerators on farms will be prohibited.

In a parliamentary question on 5 December, Environment Minister Allan Wilson confirmed that the Scottish Executive believes that the incineration Directive should be applied to any piece of equipment that has been specifically designed or adapted for the combustion of materials.1 This includes small waste oil burners which are widely used in garages for heating.

"The Directive defines incineration plant as a stationary or mobile technical unit and equipment dedicated to the thermal treatment of wastes," Mr Wilson said. "The Directive has no de minimis threshold."

By contrast, the Environment Department in London has decided that the Directive should not be applied to equipment like garage heaters or small on-farm incinerators, because these could not be considered "technical units" as defined in the Directive. At a stroke, this decision spared some 1,600 waste oil burners in vehicle repair shops (ENDS Report 340, pp 48-49 ).

An important factor behind the English decision was a desire to avoid new controls on the agricultural sector. Farmers burn a wide range of wastes in small incinerators (see p 16 ), which under the Scottish regulations would now be expected to meet unachievable emission limits.

In England, small farm incinerators are excluded from the incineration regulations. Nonetheless, some form of controls on agricultural waste burning will be introduced in England next year, probably in the form of an exemption from waste management licensing. It is likely that the option will no longer be available for plastics waste and pesticide packaging.

The Scottish position has been set out formally in its guidance on the Directive.2 It confirms that, in its view, the Directive will cover "virtually all combustion plants". As in England and Wales, however, bonfires and open burning are excluded from the controls.

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