Committee concerned over DEFRA “no-deal” waste shipment preparations

Picture by: Chatham House-

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to the UK Secretary of State Michael Gove about its concern over waste shipments from the UK to the EU in a “no-deal” Brexit scenario. 

This follows Michael Gove’s Committee appearance last week where discussions covered the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) preparations for this Brexit outcome.   


A main concern for the Committee was a lack of agreement on how shipments of waste from the UK to the EU will be approved. 

Michael Gove explained that the current approvals to ship waste from the UK to the EU would no longer be valid, and exporters would need to go through a re-approval process. 

The Committee has said that this is worrying, as if they cannot begin this process until after the UK leaves the EU there could be a “considerable hiatus in waste exports”. The Committee warned that as the process typically takes 3-6 months, it could be even longer if all exporters applied at the same time. 

From this, the waste industry told the Committee that a six-month interruption to the supply chain would result in 1.8m tonnes of waste being stranded in the UK. 

The Committee has said that it is concerned as Michael Gove told them that this is all “subject to negotiations”, and has asked the department to clarify three questions: 

  • Have you or your officials sought any agreement with the EU specifically on whether waste exporters could apply for the necessary status before the UK leaves the EU? 
  • Has there been any indication of a “fast track” process? 
  • What contingency is in place to deal with waste that could become “stranded” in the UK? 

Other concerns raised by the Committee in the letter include: 

  • Whether there will be a delay in the UK being able to export animals to the EU. Unless the Government can persuade the EU to give the UK ‘listed’ status in advance of Brexit, all animal exports could be halted for months. 
  • All animal exports that currently travel Dover-Calais will have to be re-routed. Calais does not have a Border Inspection Post; something all animal exports would have to pass through in a ‘no deal’ scenario. 
  • The Government’s ability to control access to UK waters. The Committee was concerned that the Secretary of State had yet to receive permission to obtain the additional staff and boats required for fisheries control and enforcement.
  • The Secretary of State seemed unaware that UK chemical companies may not own the rights to the data that proves their chemicals are safe to use. The Government’s plans for the chemical industry in the case of a ‘no deal’ Brexit are predicated on companies being able to provide this.

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