SEPA's Thermal Treatment Of Waste Guidelines 2009


SEPA has issued new Guidelines on the Thermal Treatment of Waste

which update and replace those produced in 2004 and have the

objective of ensuring that recovery of energy from waste is

maximised as well as ensuring that new and existing thermal

treatment facilities don't impede the prevention or recycling

of waste. The Guidelines apply to all municipal and commercial and

industrial wastes (excepting hazardous wastes).

What the Guidelines say

In summary, the Guidelines state that thermal treatment

facilities should:

"Only treat residual waste (i.e. waste remaining after all

efforts have been made to extract recyclable materials), in order

not to impede recycling and waste prevention efforts;

Be part of an integrated network of recycling and composting

and other waste management facilities; and

Recover and use the energy derived from waste


The Guidelines provide developers and their advisors with a

Planning and Permitting framework as well as technical standards

(described below) that need to be met in order to operate lawfully.

The Guidelines state they are also relevant to the co-firing of

biomass and waste. In this context, "biomass"


Primary biomass – grown for energy production


Secondary biomass – produced as a consequence of

faming and forestry, where these are not deemed to be wastes;


Tertiary biomass – waste biomass.

Planning Aspects

Recent reforms to Scotland's Planning system include a

requirement that the views of certain agencies be sought in the

preparation of strategic and local plans. The Guidelines will act

as an instrument for local authorities and other, relevant agencies

such as SEPA in assessing policy and strategic issues as well as

site-specific proposals. They narrate several key planning

principles to be applied to the assessment of strategic issues and

site specific planning applications for thermal treatment

facilities. The principles are listed at section 2 of the

Guidelines and, in summary, are:

The proximity principle – an assessment of how close

a facility or proposed facility is to the source of the waste that

it treats;

Capacity and need – A developer is required to submit

information on the need for a new facility in the area


Site selection – A developer must show why one site

has been favoured over other sites. This information is likely to

be found in an Environmental Statement that might have been

produced in respect of a proposed development;


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