Waste Plan: Big Choices

Derby & Derbyshire Waste Core Strategy: Big Choices Report

Chapter 4 Providing for Waste Management in the Plan Area

The parts of Derbyshire

4.1 Derby and Derbyshire is in the East Midlands region of England. The government has published a plan for the region,[1] following extensive development and consultation within the region. The regional plan divides Derbyshire into three parts and has separate policies for each part. We are calling those parts, “North-Eastern Derbyshire”, “North-Western Derbyshire” and “City and Southern Derbyshire”.

4.2 North-Eastern Derbyshire includes Chesterfield, Bolsover, Clay Cross, Dronfield and Killamarsh. It also includes the rural areas and villages around those towns.

4.3 The main towns of North-Western Derbyshire are Glossop, New Mills, Chapel, Buxton, Matlock, Wirksworth and Ashbourne. North-Western Derbyshire includes the Peak District National Park and rural areas next to the national park. Our plan will not propose developments in the national park. That is because the park authority prepares its own plans for its area.

4.4 City and Southern Derbyshire extends from Alfreton in the north, southwards to Swadlincote, and from Long Eaton in the east to beyond Hilton in the west. It includes Derby, Belper, Ripley and Ilkeston and the countryside and villages around those towns. It does not include the Ashbourne area, which is in North-Western Derbyshire.

Providing enough facilities

4.5 It is government policy[2] that local waste plans should provide a framework for communities to take responsibility for their own waste and should provide for sufficient facilities to meet the needs of their communities. The framework can be provided at the county and city level by jointly-prepared plans such as ours. Communities can take responsibility by getting involved with the preparation of the plan and committing to its adopted proposals.

4.6 The regional plan says: “Waste Planning Authorities …. should make provision … for waste management capacity equal to the amount of waste generated and requiring management in their areas, … subject to further research and analysis … and recognition of the particular operational and locational requirements of individual waste process technologies.”[3]

Not enough sites

4.7 There are not at present enough sites and treatment factories in the city and county to deal with all the waste that will be produced by homes, factories and other businesses and organisations in our plan area during the next twenty years and more. So our plan must show how more sites and buildings, to deal with the waste, can be provided.

The best ways of dealing with it

4.8 The government wants us to provide for as much waste as possible to be recycled or composted[4]. It sees incineration and other forms of thermal treatment[5] as less desirable options but says that they are acceptable provided that they treat waste as a fuel (not just rubbish to be got rid of).

4.9 A type of energy recovery process which the government particularly favours (but still below recycling & composting) is anaerobic digestion. The national waste strategy[6] says:

“the Government wishes to encourage more consideration of the use of anaerobic digestion (AD) both by local authorities and businesses. Such use would complement strong measures which are being taken to promote AD in farming … . Apart from AD, the Government does not generally think it appropriate to express a preference for one technology over another, since local circumstances differ so much.”[7]

4.10 By law[8], the plan must aim to reduce the rate of climate change. So it must have policies and proposals that will help to keep down the carbon footprint of the waste industry.

4.11 There should be as little landfilling[9] of waste as possible. To treat waste as useless rubbish and dump it in a hole in the ground is to ignore its value as a usable resource. Furthermore, wastes which are not inert will rot in the ground and produce gases which increase the rate of climate change. Therefore, the government says that landfilling is its least desired option but also says that sometimes there is no alternative.

4.12 Therefore, our plan must provide for facilities which will enable more recycling and composting and should, where necessary, provide facilities for using waste as a fuel.

4.13 The plan should also try to provide for landfilling if that is shown to be essential and possible.

See Big Choice A in chapter 5.

Location and design

4.14 People and organisations have opinions on how much material should be recycled, whether there should be thermal treatment and if so how much and what the rules and targets for landfill should be. People also are uncomfortable with the processing of kitchen and other odorous wastes. If they are not to be landfilled, those wastes have to be composted, digested or thermally treated.

4.15 All those treatment methods may be bad neighbours if the treatment facilities are not well designed and run. Location and design are crucial. We will have to make decisions about the sorts of places where the facilities should be located (eg rural or urban) and set high design standards.

Rural locations

4.16 Some types of facility, particularly small-scale digesters, have characteristics which may make them more suited than other types to rural areas. However, such locations will often be further away than urban sites from the businesses, hotels and restaurants that are the sources of the waste and they can result in more lorries on country roads.

4.17 On the other hand, some types of waste management facility use industrial processes and occupy buildings which look similar to factories. They will normally be well suited to urban locations such as industrial estates. But that would not apply to all such locations, as some industrial estates have poor access, perhaps through a residential area, or are restricted by the planners to a particular type of business[10].

4.18 The general gist of location policy[11] is that development locations should be sustainable and minimise impacts on climate change. Policy considerations regarding rural locations include:

  • Urban locations are more likely to be sustainable[12].
  • However, sometimes, a rural location is more or equally appropriate[13].
  • There are no government or regional policies that require us to avoid development in the countryside.
  • It is possible that the plans being prepared by the district councils of Derbyshire may restrict development in the countryside.
  • There are areas which require special protection because, for example, they are of historic or wildlife importance, contain high quality agricultural land or are in the green belt.

See Big Choice C in chapter 5.

Achieving and exceeding government targets

4.19 The government has set targets which councils and the waste management industry should achieve for the conversion of waste by composting and recycling and by the other methods described above to recover value from waste. The targets[14] are the least that should be achieved and many councils and firms are trying to achieve higher levels. Indeed, the city and county councils, with the Derbyshire district councils, are already exceeding some of the municipal waste[15] targets for recycling & composting.

4.20 Waste that is not fully converted into becoming once more a useful resource will have to be disposed of as rubbish to land. But that will create an additional problem for our plan: there is likely to be a shortage of landfill space in Derby and Derbyshire. There are only two existing non-hazardous[16] sites (Erin Void, in North-Eastern Derbyshire, and Arden Quarry, in North-Western Derbyshire), both of which may be full by 2020.

4.21 From 2020, although we could send 600,000 tonnes of waste annually to landfill and still meet the government’s recycling targets, there will be nowhere in Derby and Derbyshire to send it to.

4.22 We could decide to accept that it is not possible to find enough new landfill space in Derby and Derbyshire to meet the need. And we could have a policy of providing enough processing facilities to cope with all the extra waste and to recover value from what would have been disposed of as rubbish.

4.23 Such a policy, whilst being realistic about the difficulty of finding landfill sites, might not be realistic about facility sites. Even if the plan can identify sufficient locations for the facilities, there is the practical problem of expecting the waste management industry to find the resources to build so many (or such large) facilities.

4.24 There are reasons to believe that the quantities of material being sent to landfill by 2020 could be much less than currently predicted[17].

4.25 The reasons include the following factors which could influence the disposal of waste to land.

  • Landfill tax and other landfill costs are rising relative to some processing costs.
  • People and firms are becoming more committed to reducing waste and recycling and composting.
  • New technologies are being developed in the waste industry which may eventually provide 100% recovery.

4.26 It may also be that most of the waste for landfill will be the unusable output from treatment facilities – what is left over after MBT, gasification[18] or other processing. Such residual materials are likely to be dry and may be odourless. That would make the search for a new landfill site easier because a landfill site taking such materials would be less environmentally unfriendly.

See Big Choices A and B in chapter 5.

Landfill sites in other areas

4.27 There are landfill sites which are outside Derbyshire but within reasonable driving distance of Derbyshire towns. Some of those sites may have capacity after 2020, until 2030 or later, particularly because all councils and most firms are planning for more recycling and less landfill. At present, there is considerable movement of waste across the county boundaries. For example, some of Derby’s municipal waste is being taken to the Albion landfill in Leicestershire.

4.28 However, in view of the requirement to make enough provision for themanagement of our own waste within our area, it may be wrong for our plan to rely on landfill space outside the plan area without special justification. We are carrying out an analysis of the existing sites in adjoining councils’ areas and discussing whether there might be special justification for using them. One justification might be that there are strong environmental reasons to get those sites filled and restored sooner rather than later. Another might be to offer a sort of a swap – for example, Derbyshire’s waste goes to County X but in return Derbyshire provides enough recovery sites to take some of County X’s waste.

See Big Choices D and E in chapter 5.

Waste and regeneration

4.29 The waste industry can bring benefits to an area, in terms of regeneration and employment.

4.30 There has always been some truth in the old saying, “Where there’s muck there’s brass”. The waste industry is much cleaner nowadays and, for Derby and Derbyshire, there are great possibilities of deriving economic benefits from the modern methods of treatment (we say more about this in the Types of Facilities Paper).

4.31 There is a wide range of employment levels in waste management, so it is not possible to give an average, such as “XX employees per tonne of waste treated” or “YY employees per square metre of floorspace”. In some cases, the staffing levels may be lower than in an industrial building of a similar size. But the jobs may be technically demanding, particularly in some of the new technologies. They may attract staff with specialist skills. They may also help to regenerate a locality by their links with other science-based or high-technology companies.

4.32 Waste firms also offer work that is closer to that of traditional industries. Many areas of Derby and Derbyshire have lost jobs in mining and industry which have not been replaced by jobs requiring similar skills. The waste industry provides skilled and semi-skilled employment.

Resource recovery parks

4.33 Resource recovery parks can provide a way of attracting new industries to the plan area. The idea of a resource recovery park is to have a large area, perhaps on an industrial estate or linked with a rail-freight depot, where waste industries can be located together to mutual benefit. Occupants of the park might include firms which use treated waste as a raw material – for example, an electronics manufacturer might use the products of a firm that dismantles the electronic parts of waste machinery[19].

4.34 The disadvantages of trying to achieve such mutual benefits include:-

  • The economics of business extend beyond the park and across the world, so that, for example, it may make more financial sense for an electronics manufacturer to buy its materials from elsewhere.
  • It will be difficult to ensure that a site established with planning permission for a resource recovery park does not gradually become an estate with unrelated firms.
  • There cannot be certainty that the waste firms will permanently find co-location to be mutually beneficial.

4.35 However, the government says[20] that we should consider including resource recovery parks in the plan area. As well as the potential for mutual benefits mentioned above, advantages can include:-

  • Reduced lorry mileages, with carbon reduction benefits – a lorry or train carrying mixed or several wastes requiring various sorting processes and treatments can be unloaded in one location.
  • Getting a number of waste firms onto one site which is well located in a place where it is accepted by the public.
  • Potential for marketing the location as “the place to be” for cutting-edge waste technologies.
  • Being a recognised location for supplies of recovered materials for industry.

4.36 The plan might try to capitalise on the potential economic benefits which the waste management industry can offer to Derby and Derbyshire. Perhaps it might put forward proposals for specialist technological sites or resource recovery parks.

See Big Choice D in chapter 5.

1. East Midlands Regional Plan, 2009 [back]
2. Planning Policy Statement 10 [back]
3. East Midlands Regional Plan, Policy 38 [back]
4. See "Key Planning Objectives" of Planning Policy Statement 10 in Appendix 2. Also see "waste hierarchy" in Appendix 1. [back]
5. See "thermal treatment" in Types of facilities paper [back]
6. Waste Strategy for England, 2007 [back]
7. Annex E, Waste Strategy for England, 2007. For description of AD, see Types of Facilities Paper [back]
8. Planning Act 2008 [back]
9. "Landfilling" is the disposal of waste to land; it is described in the Types of Facilities paper [back]
10. This is usually done by conditions on a planning permission [back]
11. For example, East Midlands Regional Plan, Policy 1 [back]
12. East Midlands Regional Plan, paragraph 2.2.1 and Policy 3 [back]
13. East Midlands Regional Plan, paragraph 2.1.9 [back]
14. The targets are explained in Background Paper 1 to this Report, the "Needs" paper [back]
15. Municipal waste - see Appendix 1 [back]
16. "Non-hazardous" means not inert and not hazardous - see Appendix 1 [back]
17. The current predictions are set out in Background Paper 1 to this Report, the "Needs" paper [back]
18. The Types of Facilities Paper explains MBT, gasification and other technologies [back]
19. The Types of Facilities Paper gives further information on resource recovery parks [back]
20. In Planning Policy Statement 10, paragraph 20 [back]