‘A real concern’: Reopening of definition of waste service delayed again

A legal expert has claimed that the Environment Agency’s (EA) decision to delay the reopening of the definition of waste service (DoW) for a third time in a row could lead to increased litigation costs across the whole industry.

The service, which provides an opinion for businesses on whether a material constitutes waste or not, was scrapped by the regulator in October 2016.

However, it was refashioned and reinstated as a chargeable service in 2018 after a backlash from the waste industry.

In September last year, the EA then temporarily suspended the service until “at least 1 January 2021” in order to bolster its national permitting service.

In February the EA said that the service will remain closed "until at least April 2021". Then in April it said the service would remain closed until July.

This week the EA said the DoW service “will remain closed until 1 September while we finalise changes”. 

The regulator said this would include providing a new submission form and form guidance, developing a new pre-submission service and “changing internal processes to improve service delivery”. 

Simon Tilling, a partner at law firm Burges Salmon, said: “Determining whether a waste material has reached end-of-waste is fraught with difficulties and there is considerable legal risk for businesses in ‘self-assessing’.” 

He added: “The DoW Service was created to help by offering ‘opinions’, and therefore it is a great shame – and a real concern for the UK’s circular economy – that the current suspension has been extended. The decision leaves businesses with very little option but to self-assess, or play it safe and leave valuable materials in the waste stream.”  

In addition, Tilling pointed out that the absence of the DoW Service gave rise to the prospect of increased litigation through the courts on the definition of waste, “which will be more costly for everyone in the long run and with an increased risk of inconsistent decisions”.

Related Environmental Services

Powered by ENDS Directory

Compliance Search

Discover all ENDS content in one place, including legislation summaries to keep up to date with compliance deadlines

Compliance Deadlines

Plan ahead with our Calendar feature highlighting upcoming compliance deadlines

News from ENDS Europe

News from ENDS Waste & Bioenergy