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Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003

Summary and Background

3.The Act extends to the whole of the UK, although some particular provisions have limited territorial extent (see section 41).

4.Part 1 of the Act is intended to give legal effect to the obligations imposed by Article 5(1) and (2) of Council Directive 1999/31/EC(1) (“the Landfill Directive”) which was adopted on 26 April 1999 and entered into force on 16 July 1999. The Act also implements a commitment in the White Paper “Waste Strategy 2000: England and Wales”(2) to introduce tradable allowances for local authorities to restrict the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfills.

5.The aim of Article 5(1) and (2) of the Landfill Directive is to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste that is sent to landfills. Member States are required to establish a national strategy for the reduction of biodegradable waste going to landfills. Such a strategy must ensure that targets for the reduction of the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfills set out in Article 5(2) of the Directive are met. Each EU Member State must reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfills to 75% of the amount produced by that State in 1995 by 2006, to 50% by 2009 and to 35% by 2016. There is a four year derogation of this target for Member States which send to landfills more than 80% of their collected municipal waste in 1995. The UK qualifies to take advantage of this derogation.

6.The Act seeks to fulfil the requirements of Article 5(1) and (2) of the Landfill Directive by providing for the Secretary of State to set the maximum amounts of biodegradable municipal waste which may be sent to landfills from each country of the UK. The Act enables a landfill allowance system to be set up which limits the amount of biodegradable waste disposal authorities may send to landfill on the basis of allocations made by allocating authorities for each country of the UK. The Act also requires the Secretary of State and the appropriate authority for each country of the UK to have a national strategy for the reduction of biodegradable waste sent to landfills. In two-tier areas of England, the Act gives waste disposal authorities the power to direct waste collection authorities to deliver their waste in a separated form. It also requires authorities in two-tier areas, subject to certain exemptions, to have in place a joint strategy for the management of their municipal waste.

7.Part 2 of the Act is concerned with the trading of emissions quotas. Section 38 amends Schedule 1 to the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999. One purpose of that Act was to enable legal effect to be given to Council Directive 96/61/EC(3) (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive). The amendment provides for penalties in future emissions trading schemes. This Part of the Act also provides for the enforceability of penalties, including fixed financial penalties, in the current non-statutory UK Emissions Trading Scheme. The policy framework for the Emissions Trading Scheme was set out in the ‘Framework for the Emissions Trading Scheme’ published in August 2001.(4)


OJ L 182, 16.7.1999, p.1


Waste Strategy 2000: England and Wales, Command Paper 4693


OJ L 257, 10.10.96, p. 26.

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Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


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