The RDFIG (refuse derived fuel industry group) has written to the Environment Agency (EA) to express its concern over “severe delays” in the processing of transfrontier shipment (TFS) notification applications.
The Group represents 35 organisations from across the European waste derived fuel (WDF) supply chain: including WDF production companies that produce fuel from residual waste; energy-from-waste (EfW) facility operators; and those who ship, transport and test WDF.
The letter reads: “We welcome the recent engagement from the EA in the form of the re-launched International Waste Shipment (IWS) stakeholder group. This is a very useful forum for information sharing and communication between industry, Defra, the EA and the other UK regulators.
“However, we are very concerned to learn that the current seven-week delay between a waste shipment notification being submitted, and it being assigned to an EA officer for assessment, is likely to continue until summer 2023.
“We understand that these delays have been caused by resourcing shortages within the IWS team, and although recruitment has brought the team back to full capacity in terms of numbers, it will take time for these officers to be fully trained.”
However, we are very concerned to learn that the current seven-week delay between a waste shipment notification being submitted.
RDFIG continues in the letter that it highly values the EA being open about the delays as this allows industry to try and plan around such delays where possible.
However, it says the Group are concerned that a period of six months with significant delays could have “major impacts” on the sector.
Some of the impacts highlighted in the letter are delays in the subsequent treatment of residual waste and business uncertainty.
It also highlights that while some WDF exporters may be able to bring forward TFS applications to account for the processing delay, RDFIG says this will mean TFS notifications are in place for longer than may be necessary and delays could cause reputational impact for UK businesses when it comes to commercial relationships in Europe.
The letter continues to say that the TFS processing delays are “impacting heavily” on the industry, which it states is not a problem not being experienced in other parts of the UK. The RDFIG then calls on the EA to “urgently address” these delays.
The Group states it understands that the EA is already training new staff, but says this will return the IWS team to the status quo without addressing underlying issues of resilience.
Our members continue to express concerns about the delays in approving TFS notifications in the EA.
RDFIG concludes the letter with: “We also understand that there are plans in place to consult on changes to the IWS charging regime, but that these changes will not come into effect until spring 2024.
“The Group, therefore, urges the EA to take additional steps to ensure that the IWS team is sufficiently resourced and funded so that it is more resilient to issues such as high staff turnover as soon as possible.
“We urge the EA to act now to prevent business critical services such as timely TFS notification assessments from deteriorating and becoming a major barrier for UK businesses.”
Commenting on the letter, Andy Jones, Chair of the RDF Industry Group, said: “Our members continue to express concerns about the delays in approving TFS notifications in the EA. The impacts of these delays are widespread and costly, and are damaging the UK’s status as a key exporter of waste-derived fuel on the continent.“
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