Waste tyre exemptions reach record levels

Registered exemptions for the storage of old tyres have reached record levels in England and Wales. The concern is that as the number of exempt sites increases, the authorities’ capacity to deal with and properly police them is stretched. According to the Tyre Recovery Association, since 2012 the association has been warning Ministers of the potential danger posed by weak supervision of exempt sites. TRA representatives explained that exemptions are easy and cheap to register but may pose “a looming threat to the environment where they are unpoliced”.

Recent Environment Agency figures (Dec, 2013) show that in England and Wales alone 1,622 sites were registered for the treatment of tyres (T8) and 3912 sites registered for the storage of balled tyres (U2). In the case of baled tyres the maximum permitted holding is 50 tonnes (equivalent to approximately 5000 car tyres). Were all such sites to be stocked to the maximum permitted this would equate to some 195,000 tonnes of tyres. This figure alone would equate to 40 per cent of the UK’s total national tyre arisings. And what’s more exempt sites are subject to relatively few regulatory checks.

For several years now the TRA and its members have held strong misgivings about government policy on exemptions. In 2012 the TRA wrote to then Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach expressing it’s concern but the response from the Minister claimed that exemptions where granted were for “small-scale, low risk operations in order to encourage bona fide recycling and recovery”.

In 2013 and in the light of further examples of malpractice the TRA again wrote to Defra expressing its concerns. In this letter the association challenged the assertion that exemptions were ‘low risk’. It pointed out that almost all of the high profile enforcement action carried out by Environment Agency officials related to sites covered by the exemptions regime. Such operations were neither small scale or without risk and the intentions of such operators were not focussed on legitimate recovery.

The Tyre Recovery Association feels strongly that the Government’s current exemptions policy requires more serious scrutiny and is again calling for a moratorium on the issuing of any further new exemptions until this review has been carried out.

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