Policy News - March 2020

Policy News, June 2020

Green Recovery, COVID-19 News, Resources & Waste, Energy, Water, Air Quality and Environment & Climate

The latest updates on the policies affecting your business.

Content

  • Green Recovery
  • COVID-19 News
  • Resources & Waste
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Environment & Climate
  • Air Quality
  • Environmental Compliance
  • Post-Brexit

Green Recovery

Green Recovery to unleash Britain's economic growth post COVID-19

  • Calls for a Green Recovery have gained momentum in June.
    More than 200 UK firms and investors, including Veolia,
    wrote to the Government calling for the environment to be
    prioritised as part of any recovery plan. Also in June, city
    officials, ministers and CEOs, including Veolia’s Antoine
    Frérot signed a statement by the Ellen MacArthur
    Foundation committing to making the circular economy
    central to the recovery effort.
  • To help lead recovery Prime Minister Boris Johnson
    announced a New Deal for Britain - a £5bn package of
    capital spending. Johnson promised to build back better,
    build back greener, build back faster, with focus on building
    hospitals, schools, housing developments, broadband and
    infrastructure.
  • The Scottish Advisory Group on Economic Recovery
    published its recommendations to ensure transition towards
    a greener, net-zero and wellbeing economy, and to advise
    on measures to address different challenges the economy
    will face as Scotland recovers from COVID-19.

Chancellor plans a Green Industrial Revolution as result of COVID-19

  • Rishi Sunak is planning to launch a Green Industrial
    Revolution to help to create jobs for people who are made
    redundant because of the pandemic.

COVID-19 is a defining moment in the fight against climate change, says the CCC

  • The Climate Change Committee (CCC) published its annual
    report to Parliament. The Committee says that ministers
    must seize the opportunity to turn the COVID-19 crisis into a
    defining moment in the fight against climate change.

Welsh Parliament consults over the impact of COVID-19 on the environment

  • The Welsh Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs
    Committee is undertaking a consultation on the impact of
    the COVID-19 outbreak on the agriculture and fisheries
    sectors, food supply, animal welfare, climate change and the
    environment.

COVID-19 News

During the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation which is seriously affecting the UK, waste, water and energy are included within the specified critical sectors required to keep operating during the lockdown.

Easement of lockdown measures: first steps to kickstart the UK economy

  • The first step to kickstart the economy was the reopening of
    car showrooms and outdoor markets selling flowers, books,
    crafts, and fashion on 1 June. Non-essential retail reopened
    on 15 June. Hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors are
    reopening from 4 July. The Government also announced the
    reduction of the social distancing measure to a
    'one-metre-plus’ rule and two households can meet inside if
    social distancing is observed.
  • Face coverings are mandatory on public transport in England and Scotland.
  • New quarantine rules apply on
    international arrivals. Most people arriving in the UK need to
    fill in an online form with contact and travel details and the
    address where they will be staying in quarantine for the
    subsequent 14 days. Random checks will be carried out by
    Public Health England. Exceptions apply to certain sectors,
    including waste management.
  • In other parts of the UK: the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon
    confirmed the Scottish Government's plans on moving to
    Phase 2 of the route map for easing lockdown restrictions
    with shops to reopen from 29 June. In Northern Ireland,
    tourism and the hospitality industry is set to reopen from 3 July

Latest local authority results of COVID-19 impact on waste services

According to the latest waste impacts survey from ADEPT:

  • The vast majority of waste collection authorities report that residual waste collections are operating as normal
  • 75% of recycling collections are reported to be operating as normal with minor disruptions
  • Food waste collections operate as normal with minor disruptions
  • 80% of garden waste collection services are reported to be operating as normal
  • Almost all clinical waste collections are reported to be continuing to operate as normal
  • Commercial collection services to be operating normally with minor disruption

 

Resources & Waste

Defra is still developing its Resources and Waste Strategy proposals

The launch of the next round of Resources and Waste
Strategy consultations is likely to be put back to later this
year. Defra Minister Rebecca Pow recently said that the
scope of Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and packaging
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes are being
further developed and will be presented in second
consultations.

The Government is reviewing its implementation timeline for
the proposed introductions of both schemes. An impact
assessment will be published alongside the second
consultation which assesses the costs and benefits of a
DRS, the costs to business, and covers the wider
environmental impacts of implementing a DRS.

Defra Secretary of State updates Committee on upcoming plans and impacts of COVID-19

Speaking at a one-off session of the cross-party House of
Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Defra’s
Secretary of State, George Eustice, said parliamentary
business had been delayed by COVID-19 and as a result,
the Environment Bill is likely to return after the summer
break. He also acknowledged that certain challenges arose
due to Covid-19 that meant recycling and waste services
being disrupted.

He commented that they would be introducing a deposit
return scheme on plastic bottles and drinks containers; that EPR is “the key to taking recycling to the next level”; and
also said the Environment Bill will provide for the powers to
bring greater consistency and clarity to the approach taken
by local authorities around collections, including whether or
not to charge for garden waste.

Scottsh DRS: scheme administration form and template are now available

Scottish Environment Ministry has published an application
form and operational plan template for organisations wanting
to operate as a Scheme Administrator for Scotland’s DRS.
The Regulations require any organisation wanting to operate
as a Scheme Administrator for Scotland’s DRS to apply in
writing to Scottish Ministers. A Scheme Administrator is defined as a person that has been approved to submit
applications for registration on behalf of producers and to
discharge the obligations on behalf of those producers in
particular, in relation to managing the collection and financial
payments associated with returned containers.

Plastic straw ban postponed until October 2020, calls to ban oxo-degradable plastics

In June, the House of Commons approved legislation to ban
the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in
England. October 2020 is the new implementation date.
Defra Minister stated that delaying regulations is only a
temporary measure in response to COVID-19 in order to
reduce the burden on industry and avoid putting additional
pressure on local authorities.

Energy

Government consults on future UK ecodesign and energy labelling policy

From January 2021, the UK can set out its products policy
measures. The Government has subsequently opened a call
for evidence on energy-related products, seeking views on
improvements to ecodesign and energy labelling, whether
better minimum standards could be set, and what wider

policy measures could increase the uptake of energy efficient
products. This call for evidence is primarily relevant to
manufacturers, importers, exporters, distributors, retailers or
consumers of energy-related products in the domestic and
non-domestic sectors, and is open until 4 September.

Government consults on the future of Combined Heat and Power policy

The Government published a call for evidence on the future
of Combined Heat and Power policy, seeking views on the
current benefits from CHP, the future role of CHP generation
in achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
and supporting green recovery, and how the technology might support the decarbonisation of heat and industry.

Heat Networks Industry Council plans to boost investment in green heat networks and jobs

The Heat Networks Industry Council (HNIC) was officially
launched in June at an online event with Energy and Clean
Growth Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng MP. This new industry
body brings together leaders of the heat networks industry,
such as Veolia, to support the Government's vision of a
sustainable heat industry.

Water

Water quality review extended to September 2020

The Environment Agency confirmed that the water quality
review has been pushed back by five months because of the coronavirus. Originally due to close in May, the consultation
will now close on 26 September 2020.

Sewage monitoring across the UK to detect new outbreaks of COVID-19

Sewage monitoring is being established across the UK as
part of an advance warning system to detect new outbreaks
of coronavirus. This work is being coordinated by Defra, the
Environment Agency and includes water companies and
experts across the UK.

Welsh Health Minister Vaughan
Gething confirmed the launch of a pilot programme which will flag early signs of the coronavirus in Welsh communities
by monitoring sewage systems.

The Scottish Environment
Protection Agency has also begun analysis work on the first
samples of wastewater (sewage) in a new trial aimed at
helping monitor the spread of coronavirus in Scotland.

Environment & Climate

Government unveils the new UK Emissions Trading Scheme from January 2021

The UK Government has unveiled plans for a country-wide
emissions trading scheme (ETS) to replace the EU ETS. The
scheme would temporarily increase the country's emissions
cap by 5%.

The UK ETS will apply to energy intensive
industries, the power generation sector and aviation –
covering activities involving combustion of fuels in
installations with a total rated thermal input exceeding 20MW (except in installations for the incineration of hazardous or
municipal waste) and sectors like refining, heavy industry
and manufacturing.

The scheme is expected to run from
2021 to 2030 and will be reviewed twice: an initial review in
2023 and a full review in 2028. The Government said it
would be open to considering a link between a UK ETS and
the EU ETS.

Government invests £80m to reduce carbon emissions from industry and homes

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng has announced £80m of
government funding to be invested in a wide range of
programmes, including pioneering heat networks and an
innovative new programme to bring down the cost of
retrofitting residential properties with the latest energy
efficiency technologies.

Funds announced include:

  • £30m towards the first phase of the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund to support energy intensive manufacturers, like car factories and steel plants, to cut their carbon footprint and reduce energy bills
  • £25m for heat networks
  • £24m to help develop energy efficient homes by installing green tech and insulation in houses

Air Quality 

Parliamentary inquiry into air quality opens, calls for review of the Clean Air Strategy

The House of Commons EFRA Committee has opened a
parliamentary inquiry into air quality, looking into how
effective and deliverable is the Government’s strategy in
tackling poor air quality. Parliamentarians will examine what
progress the Government made on reducing air pollution and
enforcing legal pollution limits before COVID-19. The inquiry
is open until 7 August 2020.

Parliament APPG urges to cut air pollution to avoid a second COVID-19 peak

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution launched
its Strategy to Reduce Coronavirus Infection. The report
recommends that air pollution is kept at low levels to help
avoid a second peak of coronavirus infections and that the UK delivers World Health Organisation Air Quality
Standards. It also urges the rollout of clean air zones,
currently delayed by the pandemic, and a scrappage scheme
for dirty vehicles.

Environmental Compliance

 

Environmental Compliance: updated guidance documents

The Environment Agency published guidance on accepting,
classifying and disposing of household packaging waste
(RPS234) which allows operators of sites that are permitted
to accept household waste, to also accept separately
collected household packaging waste.

The Environment Agency updated the guidance on storing
and dewatering street sweeping waste (RSP65) clarifying that this RPS only applies to local authorities, Highways
England and their contractors. The review date has been
extended until 31 January 2023.

The Environment Agency updated the guidance on waste
import and export, clarifying the refund amount and
explaining the rules that apply to waste import and export
now that we have left the EU.

Post-Brexit

Committee expresses concerns over clarity of preparations for the end of transition period

In a recent report the Commons Public Accounts Committee
expressed concerns about the Cabinet Office’s capability to
deliver campaign messages on the end of the transition
period at the same time as delivering the major public health
campaign on COVID-19.

The Committee indicated that the
Cabinet Office may lack the capacity to successfully deliver
two such important campaigns and may also overload the public’s ability to receive and act on the messages.
Interestingly, the Confederation of British Industry has also
said British firms do not have the resilience to cope with a
no-deal Brexit following COVID-19 insofar as any buffers to
cope with the additional cost and planning of an exit from the
EU without a deal had been exhausted.