News in brief 29/01/15

Huw Irranca-Davies steps down as Chair of EAC

News in brief 29/01/15MP Huw Irranca-Davies has stepped down as Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in order to run for the Welsh Assembly.

Since Irranca-Davies was elected, the ‘cross-party green watchdog’ has drawn attention to issues such as diesel emissions, the environmental impact of the Heathrow expansion and the privatisation of the Green Investment Bank. The final inquiry overseen by Irranca-Davies was the assessment of the EU on UK environmental policy, which finished collecting evidence last week.

Rules of the House of Commons stipulate that a replacement can be elected no earlier than 10 sitting days after the Speaker declares the chair is vacant, which occurred on 25 January. In addition, only Labour MPs can be nominated for the current vacancy as select committee chairs are allocated according to party.

Nominations for a replacement opened on 25 January, following the announcement of the vacancy, and will close on 8 February. The election will take place on the morning of 10 February with the result being announced later the same day.

Candidates need 15 signatures from members of their own party to be nominated and those nominated will be updated daily on the EAC website. So far only Geraint Davies and Chris Evans have been nominated.

Upon standing down, Irranca-Davies said: “The UK faces some pressing challenges on harmful pollutants, climate change and the protection of the natural world. Air quality is unacceptably poor in many of our cities. The government’s recent policy reversals on energy and climate change need careful scrutiny. And we are still not doing enough to protect our precious biodiversity.”

More information on the EAC can be found on the Parliament website.


WISH launches new health and safety website

The Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum has launched a new website to house health and safety information on working within the waste management industry.

The website contains industry-specific information previously available on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website, such as research reports, which will remain in place. The WISH Forum will continue to have HSE endorsement.

The website produced by the WISH Forum, which includes representatives from recycling and waste management industries, has been sponsored by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM).

Information on good practice and safety leadership, in addition to case studies and a ‘practical pocket guide’ to health and safety in the WMI, will all be included in the new website. Some information on the previous HSE site, including documents focusing on guidance and good practice, will move to new site.

Further resources will be added over the course of 2016, and WISH claims it will ‘continue to provide industry with key advice on good health and safety standards’.

Chair of WISH Chris Jones says: “It is right that the waste management industry stands on its own two feet here, and that guidance produced by the industry for the industry is on an industry website.

“Initially, the new WISH website will house the formal health and safety guidance which previously appeared on the HSE’s site. It is our intention to expand it over time to provide a one-stop shop for industry guidance, resources and good practice information on health, safety and welfare matters.”

The new WISH website can be found at


Environment Agency trains landfill maintenance personnel

An engineer using plastic welding equipment to join a geomembrane lining
The Environment Agency will use engineering training company TWI to educate its personnel on maintaining the integrity of geomembranes and pipes used in landfill sites.

Inspectors and construction quality engineers (CQEs) responsible for maintaining landfill sites will attend the one-day specially-designed course, ‘Welding of Geomembranes and Pipes for CQA Engineers’.

Geomembranes are currently used to line the bottom, sides and top of landfill sites to both prevent leachate reaching the groundwater, as well as containing landfill gas. Pipes are used to channel rainwater away from the landfill to drainage ditches.

The failure of geomembranes could result in the contamination of the groundwater by leachate or toxic chemicals. As a result, it is important that they are well maintained and that maintenance personnel are well-trained in landfill processes.

The course will provide an introduction to plastics such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which geomembranes consist of, and the techniques and theories used to weld both membranes and pipes. 

Workshops and practical demonstrations will ensure personnel gain hands-on experience of welding geomembranes and attendees will gain an internationally-recognised certification.

More information on TWI can be found on the company’s website.


Croydon Council introduces charge for collecting garden waste

Croydon Council will charge for removing household garden waste from April after thousands of residents backed the charge, it announced on Tuesday (26 January). The decision follows similar moves in other London boroughs such as Sutton, Bexley and Merton.

Croydon residents were consulted last autumn about the possible removal of the service, which is funded by 147,000 households but used by less than a quarter of them, according to the council. In response, over 10,000 said they would rather pay for the service than lose it.

The council says that the introduction of a charge for the fortnightly service will save taxpayers £1.5 million a year but may reduce pressures on council funding, which is partly due to reduced government funding. Details of the new service will be announced in the next few weeks, including how to pay for it. 

Councillor Stuart Collins, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Clean and Green Croydon, said: “We’re really pleased we can continue this green waste service for those who want it while saving Croydon taxpayers £1.5 million a year and therefore protecting more crucial frontline services.

“Thanks to government grant cuts Croydon faces tough choices, and a green waste service that served only residents with gardens but was paid for by all our households had to change.”

More information on the Croydon garden waste service can be found on the council’s website.