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justinkingwell

Is woodchip and tree surgery arisings a waste?

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Where does the law stand on the classification of chip, logs and arisings from construction sites (development sites, road schemes, highways works, etc. etc.)? Many construction clients are now stating that this material should be moved, stored and "treated" as a waste. Some of our subcontractors are also running into this problem. For example, if you remove demolition timber, or old fencing from a site, you have to operate under a full Waste Management Licence. This involves WAMITAB qualification and using consignment notes.

As far as we can see, the Environment Agency https://www.gov.uk/search?q=wood+waste&filter_organisations[]=environment-agency has no obvious guidance on their website, so does anyone have the facts on what the law says?

 

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Since EA website went "dot Gov" it's been dreadful!

 

from memory, any "treated" timber - fence posts, panels, painted, treated, tantalised, is "waste" and subject to carriers licence at higher tier. "Green" arisings direct from the tree, is lower tier. 

 

Is a tree "waste" if it's being moved from A to B for processing into logs? No - if it were then all timber lorries would be carrying waste rather than saw logs. 

 

I apply the same logic to chip. If it's going for conversion to compost or top dressing, it's not waste it's 'product.'

 

Haven't had a run in with EA whilst on the road yet, but I'll be ready if it ever does happen. 

 

There may may also be a matter of scale too. Doesn't trouble me but may be important in larger scale ops. 

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1 hour ago, justinkingwell said:

Where does the law stand on the classification of chip, logs and arisings from construction sites (development sites, road schemes, highways works, etc. etc.)? Many construction clients are now stating that this material should be moved, stored and "treated" as a waste. Some of our subcontractors are also running into this problem. For example, if you remove demolition timber, or old fencing from a site, you have to operate under a full Waste Management Licence. This involves WAMITAB qualification and using consignment notes.

As far as we can see, the Environment Agency https://www.gov.uk/search?q=wood+waste&filter_organisations[]=environment-agency has no obvious guidance on their website, so does anyone have the facts on what the law says?

 

I used to deal with this sort of thing with a small firm before I had to leave nearly a year ago so I may be a bit out of date: in the scenario you mention the material all comes under the EA definition of waste because it is the arising from the main contract (site clearance) which you would ordinarily discard. EA have a position statement on this and say that the "virgin timber", which includes whole tree woodchip" will not be subject to the normal waste rules, so it may be carried and traded just in the same way as if it had been produced from a forest. They do say that  branch trimmings, such as hedge clipping and sweepings, remain outside this position statement and are treated as waste.

 

It's only hazardous waste that requires consignment notes and this has recently been deregulated to some extent but covers things like asbestos contaminated waste, batteries, creosoted timber used engine oil etc.

 

Other tree related waste that is not "virgin timber" will require a waste carrier's licence and transfer notes, it will also need to be "treated" to make it into a product that can be sold. This can be by a number of routes e.g. for compost it needs to get PA100 certification when it then ceases to be waste and can be sold on the open market, else it remains waste and will require a licence to dispose e.g by spreading to land.

 

I am aware of a couple of arborists' yards which have applied for the relevant planning permissions, one which I was directly involved in still in process, and the formal requirements and reports necessary to get the application  validated can involve expenses into 5 figures.

 

The EA exemptions  you linked to can be a can of worms but as you say many civils firms and Network Rail require proof of chain of custody. I personally don't think using the waste transfer notes as a proof of chain of custody necessarily negates the position statement about "virgin  timber" if used to satisfy clients' audits (a bit like using white diesel in a tractor doesn't mean it's an admission you shouldn't be using red diesel).

 

The main thing about going through the paper exercise of obtaining the relevant exemptions (mine were granted with no checks) is they are nullified if the site does not have the relevant planning permissions. IME very few arborists' yards have sufficient planning permissions for what goes on in them. Also bonfire sites on these yards are always unlawful if any plant material not produced on the site is used.

 

You have to accept that once you take waste fencing, sleepers they should be taken directly to permitted premise for waste disposal rather than back to the yard. In practice everyone seems to turn a blind eye to skips kept at the yard for waste that comes back off jobs as long as the transfer notes and waste description are correct.

 

PS always been a fan of your mechanical  fleet despite working for competitors.

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