UNISON Scotland's response to the Scottish Executive
Environment Group consultation on the draft Waste Management Plan
for Scotland Regulations 2006
UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing
over 160,000 members working in the Scottish Health Service, local
government, utilities, further and higher education and other
public sector providers, as well as in some of Scotland's largest
private sector areas including energy. We also represent the majority
of employees working within the Scottish Environment Protection
Agency, and have done since SEPA was established.
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to comment
on the draft National Waste Management Plan for Scotland Regulations
Transfer of duty to the Scottish Ministers
A key change introduced in the draft regulations
is the transfer of the duty to prepare the National Waste Strategy
from SEPA to the Scottish Ministers.
UNISON's response focuses on this aspect of the
consultation and is set out in our answers to the two consultation
Essentially, UNISON Scotland does not believe that
any case has been made for a need to introduce this change and
we would urge the Scottish Executive to reconsider.
Response by UNISON Scotland
1. Do consultees have any comments on the policy
outlined in this paper and on the attached draft regulations?
UNISON Scotland's overall response is to ask:
It seems clear to UNISON that there is no case for
the transfer, but we will respond more fully to this aspect of
the consultation in our answer to Question 2, below.
On the rest of the paper and the draft regulations,
UNISON welcomes the decision to leave SEPA with a major role in
the areas of Waste Data, Land Use Planning, Area Waste Plans and
Technical Advice so that the organisation can continue to support
the Scottish Executive and Scottish Ministers.
2. Do consultees have any comments on the proposal
to transfer the duty to prepare the National Waste Strategy from
SEPA to the Scottish Ministers?
UNISON Scotland believes that decisions on the National
Waste Strategy (NWS) must be based on environmental criteria rather
than political or financial agendas. It should go without saying
that sufficient staffing expertise is required to assess all relevant
Similarly, it is essential that there is a strategic
approach which looks at the long term. There is inevitably scepticism
on the ground about whether the type of broad long term overview
essential in this key policy area can be delivered within normal
UNISON members also believe that if Ministers are
given control over preparation of the NWS it will be difficult
for local authorities to meet European Landfill Directives as
the planning system (working currently on a five year rotation
in Development Plan policies) will not be able to assume a presumption
in favour of the development of waste management facilities. In
addition, they argue that the private sector will be less willing
to invest in the development of large scale waste management infrastructure
within an uncertain planning system. Will Ministers make decisions
on the environmental criteria or on the political/financial agenda?
How will local authorities, business and the community sector
be expected to plan for long term strategic waste management when
changes in the political administration have the potential to
significantly change the NWS every four years?
However, to return to UNISON's main concern, we
have seen no evidence that the reasons why the duty for preparing
the NWS was initially placed on SEPA are no longer applicable.
The reasons given by the government in the House
of Lords in February 1995 were that:
"Unlike the Department of the Environment,
the Scottish Office will not have the appropriate staff available
to it to prepare a waste strategy for Scotland. SEPA, on the other
hand, will be well placed to undertake that task, as it would
be staffed in part by those expert staff who previously prepared
plans for their local authorities."
Earl of Lindsay: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199495/ldhansrd/vo950209/text/50209-13.htm
No mention is made in the consultation document
of whether the Scottish Executive is deemed now to have sufficient
expert staff to take over the duty.
It is UNISON Scotland's view that the situation
has not appreciably changed, that the Scottish Executive does
not have the full complement of staff with waste management expertise
to support Scottish Ministers in preparing the NWS. SEPA still
possesses the bulk of the skills and resources to deliver the
waste strategy. It has not been suggested that these resources
be transferred to the Scottish Executive, nor that the resources
are no longer needed. The fact that the strong skills base that
SEPA has built up over the years is not reflected in the Scottish
Executive is bound to affect delivery of key parts of the strategy,
such as commercial and industrial wastes and household waste prevention.
UNISON is also concerned about the implications
for 24 people currently employed within SEPA directly for Waste
Strategy purposes. (This does not include administrative support,
regional line management or national functions such as waste data
and waste policy, which have strong integration with waste strategy.)
If SEPA is no longer responsible for preparing the NWS, there
is clearly concern about what these people will do, but SEPA senior
management has not engaged with the team over this.
Paragraph 19 of the document refers to the Strategic
Waste Fund. This was set up to finance implementation of the Area
Waste Plans - and therefore the National Waste Plan, made up of
all 11 AWPs. Local authorities are required to submit Outline
Business Cases or Strategic Outline Cases to the Scottish Executive
to justify their funding requests.
This paragraph does not reflect the large amount
of assessment of the technical/waste aspects of Outline Business
Cases and Strategic Outline Cases carried out by SEPA employees.
The role of Scottish Executive staff has been largely to evaluate
the financial elements of these cases.
It should also be noted that SEPA has conducted
all the background work for consultations and action on policy
issues taken forward by the Scottish Executive, on the sustainable
management of waste from business and public sector organisations,
household waste prevention and targets for public bodies on specifying
recyclate in contracts. Yet this strong partnership working is
not recognised in paragraph 19. And the fact this work has been
undertaken by SEPA underlines the fact that the necessary staffing
expertise is not in place at the Scottish Executive.
Finally, we would argue that the funding mechanism of the Strategic
Waste Fund already places Scottish Ministers in control of the
National Waste Plan, as they have the final say over whether or
not business cases are funded. When they consider funding each
individual AWP business case, they must take an overview of how
this will affect the whole of Scotland's waste management infrastructure
and not just the individual business case in isolation. It is
debatable what additional benefit there will be in transferring
the duty to prepare the NWS to the Scottish Ministers.
We do not believe that the Scottish Executive has
demonstrated a case for the change and we urge Ministers to reconsider.
For further information please contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835