Site Waste Management Plans revoked in England

Site Waste Management Plans revoked in England


Author: Sophie Wilkinson

The Government has acted on its plan to revoke Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) in England, with effect from the 1 December 2013.

This is part of its 'Red Tape Challenge' to reduce the administrative burden on businesses.

The previous position

SWMPs were introduced in 2008 and were required to be in place before construction work began for projects with an estimated cost in excess of £300,000.

A more detailed SWMP was needed if the estimated construction cost was above £500,000. The plan had to include how to identify the waste likely to be produced on site, how to minimise its quantity, and how to deal with it. Responsibility for preparing the plan rested with the person commissioning the works.

The penalty for failing to prepare and keep a SWMP was a maximum fine of £50,000 in magistrates' courts, and an unlimited fine in Crown courts. The intention was to ensure 'commercial contractors' were responsible for their own waste and for limiting its impact on the surrounding environment.

What does this mean for your business?

There is no longer a requirement to have an SWMP or any other similar waste management plan in place before construction work begins, regardless of cost.

In its consultation, the Government addressed concerns such as 'decreased efforts to reduce construction waste, keep it out of landfill and increased fly-tipping' as 'minimal' compared with the administrative cost-saving to businesses.

Whilst concerns were raised in the consultation, it should also be borne in mind that there is a still large amount of environmental legislation governing the safe disposal of materials.

In practice it appears that many businesses will continue to use SWMPs; with 73% of consultation respondents saying they expected to retain the use of SWMPs or a similar tool despite the revocation.

While some will welcome removal of the requirement for SWMPs, others could view the decision as an administrative 'waste' of time if, in practice, many continue to use them, realising that reducing waste not only saves money, but also plays an important part in reducing carbon footprint.

Interestingly, at the same time England has removed the legal requirement for SWMPs, Wales recently consulted on introducing them.