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Sheehan Group voice concern over delayed EA legislation

Sheehan at work

Company calls for stronger environmental policies after legislation to tighten utility waste disposal is delayed

THE Sheehan Group have expressed their disappointment after the introduction of legislation to tighten utility waste disposal regulations was postponed at the 11th hour. The Environment Agency legislation was due to come into force on 31 January to ensure all unassessed waste from utility waste disposal must be classed as hazardous. 

Previously, any small volumes of utility waste (up to 10 cubic metres) produced as a result of unplanned utilities installations and repair works could be disposed of as non-hazardous waste as default. However, on the day the new legislation was due to come into force the Environment Agency delayed introducing the new protocol until May 2020. 

Katie Sheehan, head of sales for Sheehan Group, said: ‘The new protocol was a sensible step forward by the Environment Agency to ensure any hazardous utility waste was disposed of safely. Therefore, we were shocked and disappointed by the last-minute U-turn that has seen the improved laws kicked into the long grass. It’s another sad day for the environmental movement in the UK.

‘The UK should be leading on environmental policies and for the well-being of future generations and it is crucial green legislation is as strong and supportive as possible. How can it be acceptable that utility companies can continue to dispose of waste under an exemption, when the waste could be contaminated with volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, diesel?’

Ms Sheehan continued: ‘Our site, like others, is fully equipped to handle such waste and where possible our system treats and recycles contaminated soil and avoids the need to send it to landfill. Therefore, there’s no excuse for allowing such waste to be sent to landfill.’

When the Environment Agency withdraws the RPS 211, it will mean companies who are producing, transporting, keeping, processing, controlling, using or disposing of excavated waste from unplanned utilities installation of repair works will classify their waste – no matter what the volume. If it is not, it will be automatically classed as hazardous. 

Sheehan Group’s advanced waste and recycling centre at Dix Pit, Yarnton, Oxfordshire, is certificated to take hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The soil remediation service at Dix Pit is fully equipped to handle utility waste when the new legislation begins. Sheehan Group use a granulated activated carbon filter to treat soil arisings from utility work and recover the soil, to avoid it having to go to landfill. 

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