New European regulations about toxic disposal and landfill mean that crucial plans to regenerate brownfield sites could go up in smoke. Now that’s hazardous waste …
European legislation is increasingly becoming a bugbear for UK construction. The rules currently entangling the industry in red tape is extensive – the EU Chemicals Policy, Construction Products Directive, Integrated Product Policy, Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, and the EU Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme – all affect the industry in some way.

The latest Euro rule set to leave its mark on the industry is the EU landfill directive, which will have a significant impact on the regeneration of brownfield sites.

The 1999 EU directive, which comes into force on 16 July in England and Wales, will result in a reduction in the number of UK landfill sites that can accept hazardous waste. Cost consultant Davis Langdon & Everest predicts that the number of sites available could fall from 200 to about a mere 10, which will significantly push up the costs of disposing of contaminated brownfield waste.

The Hazardous Waste Forum was set up last year to look at the problem and it blames the government for the impending shortage. It accuses the government of taking too long to respond to the directive and failing to clarify the most important details of the legislation. As a result, the forum says that it will be 2009 before the UK has enough facilities to dispose of hazardous waste.

Still, the landfill directive could be the last piece of European legislation that catches the construction industry unawares. CIPER, the industry’s new government forum, has been instructed to focus on the integration of European legislation. Rudi Klein, chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group, said that CIPER offered construction and the government a good opportunity to keep tabs on looming Euro laws.

“Government representation does not fully understand industry concerns of integrated working practices at European level,” he says. “And CIPER would be a good forum to deal with this.”

CIPER is due to meet four times a year. With the amount of legislation due to cross over from the Continent, it might consider convening a little more often.