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Waste Incineration (Scotland) Regulations 2003: Practical Guidance: Edition 2



Improving waste management is one of the most significant challenges facing Scotland. The Scottish Executive and SEPA published the National Waste Plan Scotland in February 2003. It sets a course for a more sustainable and less polluting approach to waste management. Much of the plan is devoted to waste minimisation and improving the rate of reuse and recycling. However, it is recognised that approaches to management of the remaining waste can also be improved.

It is not the purpose of this guidance to define the role that incineration should play in the mix of waste management options in the future. The National Waste Plan Scotland defines policy in this area.

Incineration of waste is not as widespread in Scotland as it is in some other countries, but where waste incinerators do exist or are proposed, the public takes a significant interest in the effects that emissions from the plant may have on their health and the environment. While emissions from large waste incinerators are already tightly regulated, the regulations which are the subject of these guidelines will tighten these controls even further and also apply the same tighter regulation to smaller incinerators. The new controls will ensure that all environmental impacts from incineration are minimised.

1.1 The EC Waste Incineration Directive

The requirements of the EC Directive on the Incineration of Waste go beyond those of the 1989 municipal waste incineration directives (1),(2). To increase legal clarity and enforceability, the Waste Incineration Directive replaces the Hazardous Waste Incineration Directive (3) and the municipal waste incineration directives to form a single text on waste incineration. The technical requirements have been developed to reflect the ability of modern incineration plants to achieve high standards of emission control more cost effectively. The links to other Directives are outlined in Section 5.7.

1.2 The Waste Incineration (Scotland) Regulations 2003

The Waste Incineration (Scotland) Regulations 2003 ( SSI 2003 No 170), together with associated Directions given to SEPA, introduce strict regulatory controls and set minimum technical requirements for waste incinerators and co-incinerators in Scotland. The new Waste Incineration Regulations and Directions are referred to throughout this guidance as "the Regulations".

The new controls are given effect through the Pollution Prevention and Control ( PPC) regime and the Integrated Pollution Control and Local Air Pollution Control regimes established under Part I of EPA. The Regulations came into force on 1 April 2003 and implement the Waste Incineration Directive. The Regulations, Directions and Directive are reproduced in the Annexes to this guidance.

The aim of the Regulations is to prevent or limit, as far as practicable, negative effects on the environment from the incineration and co-incineration of waste. In particular, pollution by emissions into air, soil, surface and groundwater, and the resulting risks to human health is covered. The Regulations seek to achieve this high level of environmental and human health protection by requiring the setting and maintaining of stringent operational conditions, technical requirements and emission limit values. The same technical requirements are required throughout the European Community as a result of the Waste Incineration Directive.

The Regulations will affect a range of incinerators and co-incinerators, including municipal waste incinerators, clinical waste incinerators, animal remains incinerators, hazardous waste incinerators and plants that burn waste for fuel. They cover:

  • Solid and liquid waste, but not gaseous waste;
  • Incineration and co-incineration; and
  • Hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

The Regulations cover most combustion activities involving waste. A limited number of installations which incinerate only specific categories of waste are categorised in the Regulations as "excluded plant" (see Section 2.8 of this guidance for further details).

1.3 Purpose of this guidance

This guidance, which is issued jointly by the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA), supersedes the guidance issued in September 2003. It describes the scope, regulatory and technical requirements of the Regulations, how they should be applied, and explains the main legal provisions. However, the precise legal requirements can only be determined by reference to the Regulations. The interpretation of the Regulations is, in the first instance, a matter for SEPA whose decisions are subject to appeal and can be tested in the courts.

The guidance is intended particularly for operators of incineration and co-incineration plants, SEPA, waste producers, waste managers and operators who may be considering introducing an incinerator in future. The guidance may also be of interest to communities located close to an existing or proposed incinerator and members of the public in general who are interested in how the Scottish Executive has implemented the Directive and how SEPA will regulate incinerators and co-incinerators.

The Executive recognises the value in keeping this guidance under review. We therefore welcome comments from industry and trade associations on any part of it. We will take these comments into consideration when reviewing the document. Comments should be sent to:

Sam Anwar
SEPA Sponsorship and Waste Division
Area 1-J(North)
Scottish Executive
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

Or e-mail: SEPATeam@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
Or fax: 0131 244 0245