4 February 2019 by Elizabeth Slow

No-deal Brexit waste concerns surface

Contingency plans to deal with “putrefying stockpiles” of rubbish in the event of a no-deal Brexit were highlighted in a national newspaper on Saturday.

The Guardian noted that officials are preparing for possible incidents of pollution caused by “leaking stockpiles”.

Further waste concerns continue to emerge over a potential no-deal Brexit

This latest announcement follows heightening concerns which have been raised by the industry around stockpiling of waste in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal of March 29.

Last month, letrecycle.com reported that plans were being put in place by Defra to deal with any possible disruption to waste exports, which could see some sites being allowed to temporarily exceed their permitted storage tonnages (see letsrecycle.com story).


The Guardian reported on Environment Agency preparations with a request by the Agency for “42 volunteers to staff crisis management centres to deal with possible incidents of pollution”.

In response to the publication, Defra said that it is confident that a no-deal Brexit “will not have a significant impact on the continued export of the UK’s notified waste shipments that have already been agreed”.

Defra said it has received agreement to roll over 98% of existing consents for waste exports to the EU from the UK – agreeing 545 out of the 556 current approvals. “We expect to reach agreement on the outstanding approvals,” Defra added.


“We are confident that a no-deal Brexit will not have a significant impact on the continued export of the UK’s notified waste shipments that have already been agreed.”


Commenting on the planning measures, Stuart Hayward-Higham, technical director at Suez Recycling and Recovery UK and who leads Brexit planning for Suez said this is a “sensible” contingency plan being put in place by the Environment Agency.

“Currently a no-deal Brexit would mean import/export licences issued by the UK under EU waste shipment regulations would no longer be valid from the date of the UK’s departure from the EU, for the shipments of waste to the 27 remaining EU countries,” he said. “However regulators and companies are working through Article 17 permissions that would allow exports to continue in most circumstances.”

And, Mr Hayward-Higham said Suez has been working towards solutions so that UK RDF exports will not face “undue disruption” and minimise any impacts – such as port congestion and additional paperwork – where possible.

“We start from a common point – the rest of the EU would like our material and we in the UK would like to send them our material,” he added.


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