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Government seeks views on removing need for site waste management plans for large construction sites

A new Government consultation  has called on industry for its views on the proposed removal of the need for large construction sites to have a site waste management plan (SWMP) in place.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) proposed repealing the Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP) Regulations last year, as part of its response to the environmental 'Red Tape Challenge' regulatory review.

Since 2008, the Regulations have required construction projects in England worth over £300,000 to have a SWMP in place before work begins. This must include details of what kind of waste the site will produce and  how it will be reused, recycled or disposed of. There are no similar requirements in place for projects in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. However, a Welsh Government consultation has sought views on proposals to make SWMPs a requirement for construction and demolition projects in Wales. The consultation closed in April this year.

According to the Defra consultation document, removing the mandatory SWMP requirements will save businesses an estimated £20.3 million over five years in administration and implementation costs. Businesses will instead have the "flexibility to use SWMPs as a tool, rather than a mandatory requirement", it said.

"Business has already made strides to manage waste effectively on site and so the onus will increasingly be to reduce waste in the design process," the consultation said. "SWMPs and guidance will still be available for those that find them useful. Landfill tax remains the most effective way to keep waste out of landfill."

"More work is needed to reduce the waste arising in the first instance. This means the design phase of construction is vital in achieving the aim. SWMPs tend to be produced after the design phase," it said.

The consultation document also noted that enforcement of the SWMP Regulations had been "inconsistent", and that fly-tipping of construction waste had stayed at a "fairly constant level" as a percentage of incidents since the regulations had been introduced.

Businesses have until 16th July to respond to the consultation.

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