1. Introduction and Background

(1) The waste challenge: a growing problem


Waste management is a significant issue facing Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham. The government's waste strategy states that: "If every country consumed natural resources at the rate the UK does, we would need three planets to live on"1. The government's goal is to move towards the concept of 'one planet living' - essentially this means using fewer resources (e.g. land, fuel, water and man-made materials), conserving energy and producing less waste2.

1 The Waste Strategy for England (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2007)

2 Waste is defined under the European Union Waste Framework Directive as 'any substance or object…which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard'.


Currently, households and businesses across Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham produce over one million tonnes of waste a year. Much of this waste is sent to landfill sites. However, this cannot continue in the long term because:

3 Landfill sites are often unsightly and can harm soils and pollute ground and surface water (unless the leachate can be removed in a controlled manner).


As landfill space decreases and waste disposal becomes more expensive, we need to develop new ways to collect, treat and dispose of waste to address our long term needs, as well as recover value from waste. Modern waste technologies and practices offer an opportunity to enhance our green credentials since they:


In spite of efforts to reduce and recycle our waste, the amount of waste we produce each year has been steadily increasing4. If present trends continue, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham face a significant shortfall of suitable recycling and treatment capacity over the next 15 years (see chapter 2). The upshot is that new waste management facilities need to be built across the three boroughs to address the capacity shortfall and government targets.

4 Population, household and economic growth have been a major force in driving waste production across Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham and wider sub-region. The population of the plan area is forecast to grow at a slightly faster rate than South Yorkshire as a whole (6.4% and 5.5% respectively) from around 760,000 to 815,000 inhabitants between 2006 and 2030 (source: Yorkshire Futures/University of Leeds).


If these targets are not met, we will face heavy financial penalties (e.g. a higher rate of landfill tax). The fines from this process will ultimately be passed onto the local taxpayer5.

5 Every tonne of waste sent to landfill incurs a fine from central government and this is increasing year-on-year.

(2) What is the Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham Joint Waste Plan?


By law, every council in the country must plan for the appropriate provision of waste management facilities. In order to achieve this, the three councils of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham have jointly produced the Joint Waste Plan.


The Joint Waste Plan forms part of each borough's development plan, known as the Local Development Framework. Each Local Development Framework sets out how places will develop in the future and guide the location and scale of new development and the use of land. Chapter 2 provides more information on this.


The Joint Waste Plan is the detailed planning strategy for providing waste management facilities across Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham over the period to 2026. More specifically, it sets out:

6 If you wish to build or operate waste facilities, you need to obtain both planning permission (from the relevant local planning authority) and an environmental permit (from the Environment Agency under the environmental permitting regime). It is unlikely that an outline planning application would be acceptable in respect of a major waste recycling or treatment plant and applicants or developers must submit substantial evidence about the proposals to enable us to fully assess its effects on the immediate and surrounding area.


The Joint Waste Plan covers all waste, including waste from commercial and industrial sources, construction, demolition and excavation activities, agricultural and hazardous waste, as well as waste from households (with the exception of mineral and colliery waste and waste water. These will be addressed elsewhere in each borough's Local Development Framework).


The Joint Waste Plan also explains how waste will be managed within all new development, including homes, offices, shops and community facilities (see chapter 4).


The key diagram (map 1) illustrates the main elements of the overall strategy of the Joint Waste Plan, including the location and distribution of waste management sites across the three boroughs and their relationship to existing urban areas, transport links and environmentally sensitive areas. These sites will also be shown on each borough's separate proposals map.


The Joint Waste Plan identifies two types of allocation.


Because landfill sites and quarries are often inextricably linked, the boundaries of these sites will be identified through each borough's separate allocation process.


The Joint Waste Plan has core strategy status because it makes spatial choices about where waste development should be located across the three boroughs.

(3) Why are we working together?


As neighbouring councils, we have a history of working together to address waste management issues concerning recycling, cross boundary movements, capacity shortfalls, health and safety, fly-tipping problems and public awareness raising.


Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham councils are working closely with the private sector to secure suitable facilities to manage our municipal waste over the next 25 years through the private finance initiative (PFI) in line with the recycling, recovery and landfill diversion targets from our separate municipal waste management strategies. Chapters 2 and 3 provide further details on how these facilities will be delivered.

(4) How does the Joint Waste Plan relate to each borough's Local Development Framework (LDF)?


Each borough's Local Development Framework comprises a folder of documents covering different topics or areas. The main documents in the folder are called development plan documents (DPDs) and the Joint Waste Plan is one of these7.

7 The purpose of these documents and the timescale for producing them is set out in more detail in each council's Local Development Scheme.


The Joint Waste Plan must be read together as a whole. All waste proposals will be judged against the aims and policies set out in the Joint Waste Plan (see chapters 3 and 4) and other relevant Local Development Framework documents, including each borough's general Core Strategy (see chapter 2). These policies will assess the potential benefits of waste proposals against their potential adverse effects to help achieve the aims of the Joint Waste Plan.


The Joint Waste Plan replaces the policies relating to waste management in each borough's adopted Unitary Development Plan (UDP) as listed in appendix D.


Each borough's Local Development Framework also includes a Statement of Community Involvement. The Statement of Community Involvement is a 'code of practice' setting out how each council will involve people and organisations in planning decisions. This includes all stages of the plan making process and decisions on planning applications (including waste management proposals).

(5) General overview of the plan area


The Joint Waste Plan covers the three metropolitan boroughs of South Yorkshire: Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham (as figure 1 illustrates). Please note that the city of Sheffield also lies within the South Yorkshire sub-region, but has its own waste management policies in place.


Located in the heart of England, the plan area has direct links to the M1 motorway to Leeds in the north and Sheffield to the west and south, the M18 motorway to Hull and the A1(M) motorway to London in the east, as well as to strategic rail routes, such as the east coast and midland mainline. Robin Hood Airport is located near the town of Doncaster on the site of the former RAF airbase at Finningley (see the key diagram: map 1). The plan area also has an extensive network of navigable canals and rivers including the Dearne and Dove Canal, Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal and the Dearne and Don rivers.


The plan area, covering around 118,000 hectares (or 456 square miles) of land, contains the main urban areas of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham and a dispersed pattern of former coalfield towns and villages, including Mexborough, Bolton upon Dearne, Goldthorpe, Thorne and Dinnington. It also retains extensive open countryside consisting of natural woodland, farmland, moorland and internationally renowned landscapes, notably the Pennines in the west and the Humberhead levels - a low lying agricultural landscape (much of which is below sea level) stretching from the Humber estuary to Thorne and Hatfield moors - in the east. The moors are the largest surviving examples of raised lowland peat bogs in Britain.

Figure 1: Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham metropolitan boroughs

Waste Plan Figure 1


Barnsley is the fourth largest metropolitan borough in England covering 32,892 hectares (127 square miles) of land from the Pennines and upland rural areas in the west to the urban and industrial lowlands in the east. Over three-quarters of the borough lies within the green belt.


Doncaster is the largest metropolitan borough in England covering 57,000 hectares (225 square miles) of land. Doncaster has a large rural hinterland containing over 44 settlements surrounded by attractive and low-lying countryside. The designated green belt covers much of the western half of the borough. Around two thirds of the borough is still in agricultural use, mainly in the eastern parts.


Rotherham borough lies between Doncaster and Sheffield near the confluence of the rivers Don and Rother and covers 28,278 hectares (109 square miles) of land. Around 70% of the borough is rural in nature. Rotherham lies at the heart of the borough and is surrounded by rolling countryside and a mixture of farming and former mining villages. The main urban areas are largely concentrated in the central and north eastern parts of the borough.


Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham boroughs share many similar characteristics in terms of population size (ranging between 225,000 and 290,000 inhabitants), economic profile, settlement pattern and levels of deprivation.


The plan area also includes part of two city regions: Sheffield and Leeds8. Sheffield city region covers the local authorities of South Yorkshire as well as five authorities within the North Midlands (Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales and North East Derbyshire) with a population of around 1.7 million. Barnsley also forms part of the Leeds city region due to its links to the city of Leeds in the north.

8 City regions are defined as 'enlarged territories from which the main urban areas draw people for work and services, such as shopping, education, health and entertainment' (government definition) and are earmarked for future national growth.  

(6) How does the Joint Waste Plan relate to other documents?


This section shows how the Joint Waste Plan relates to other plans and programmes at European, national and local level9.

9 Biodegradable waste typically originates from plant or animal sources, which may be broken down by other living organisms such as food and garden waste, paper and cardboard.

European and national policy


Waste management practices are governed by European and national legislation. The key principle relating to waste management is the 'waste hierarchy' which sets out a range of options for managing waste in the following order of priority (see figure 2 below).

Figure 2: The waste hierarchy

Waste Plan Figure 2


The European Waste Framework Directive sets a target that, by 2020, the UK must recycle 50% of its household waste and re-use, recycle and recover 70% of its non-hazardous construction and demolition waste. Under the Landfill Directive the UK must ensure that no more than a third of its biodegradable waste is sent to landfill by 2020. The Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme allocates allowances to every council to meet their contribution towards the government's landfill diversion targets under the Landfill Directive. Whilst these allowances can be traded with other councils or borrowed over future years, we will incur financial penalties on every tonne of waste that is landfilled in excess of these allowances.


The government has translated the principles of these European directives into UK law. Achieving zero waste is a key aim of the government's approach to re-use, recycle or recover resources wherever possible and only dispose of waste as a last resort. This means that action will be taken to:


In line with these commitments, the government has set us challenging targets to recycle and compost at least 50% and recover value from at least 75% of our household waste by 2020.


The Joint Waste Plan is a key means of delivering a number of the government's planning objectives aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions, conserving energy, enhancing employment and training opportunities, protecting people's health, improving the quality of the built and natural environment and promoting alternatives to road transport. The key messages from the government's waste planning agenda are as follows.


Waste management activities require an environmental permit, or exemption, to operate as well as planning permission. The Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 require operators to obtain the relevant authorisations from the Environment Agency (for example, by applying for an environmental permit or registering an exemption) in order to carry out waste activities on a site. Environmental permits set controls and emission standards to prevent or reduce pollution and harm to human health. Once a permit is granted the Environment Agency will regulate a site by carrying out site inspections and audits to ensure that the waste operation complies with the conditions of the permit. We will work together with the Environment Agency to ensure that decisions taken on waste management proposals are consistent, effective and implemented in a timely fashion. Applicants and developers are encouraged where viable to prepare and submit their planning applications and environmental permit applications to the relevant authorities at the same time.

Local policy


The following documents shape and inform waste management decisions at the local level.


Sustainable community strategies set out the overall vision and priorities to deliver long term change over the next 10 to 15 years in each borough in partnership with local communities and key partners. A common theme running through these strategies is the desire to minimise, reduce and recycle waste and make best use of existing resources.


Local development frameworks are closely linked to sustainable community strategies, addressing the issues and priorities that relate to development and the use of land within different parts of each borough. Each borough's Local Development Framework sets out where these priorities will happen and how they will be implemented and delivered.


The main document within the Local Development Framework (known as the Core Strategy) sets out a long term vision and a series of overarching objectives and policies to guide development within each borough. Each borough's separate Core Strategy will explain how:


The Joint Waste Plan covers planning policies and proposals on waste and recycling. The general purpose core strategies cover a wider range of issues, such as transport, energy, settlement growth, climate change and the quality of the built and natural environment. The key messages from these strategies are set out below.


The strategic focus for development will be centred on the main urban areas of the Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham boroughs where most jobs and services are located. Particular emphasis will be placed on securing large-scale regeneration and investment to revitalise the sub-regional centres, principal towns and other coalfield communities across the plan area.


Other parts of the Local Development Framework will include site specific allocations and detailed policies covering different land uses and areas. These designations will be shown on each borough's proposals map.


Municipal waste management strategies are legal documents and each borough's Local Development Framework (specifically this document) must have regard to them. These strategies address how municipal waste will be collected, sorted and treated. The Joint Waste Plan addresses where it will be managed to assist in the delivery of these strategies as well as other waste streams (e.g. industrial waste).

FACT BOX: Municipal waste management strategies

Barnsley's municipal waste management strategy devises a policy framework to deliver more sustainable waste management practices within the borough in the period to 2030. This strategy sets a target to recycle or compost 45% of its household waste by 2015/16. Its objectives are to dispose of waste within the borough or sub-region to reduce transport costs, encourage private sector investment and predict and assess the social, economic and environmental effects of waste management options.

Doncaster's municipal waste management strategy ('An opportunity not to be wasted') sets out how Doncaster will deal with its waste up to 2026 and beyond, including the types of technology and services needed to reach its goals and targets. This strategy sets targets to achieve a 60% recycling and composting rate by 2020/21 and prevent at least 60,000 tonnes of waste from entering the waste stream by 2026.

Rotherham's municipal waste management strategy ('Waste strategy') aims to address short, medium and long term needs over the period to 2020. This strategy sets a target to recover the value from 67% of municipal waste and achieve a recycling rate of 45% by 2015/16. Meeting these targets will require a commitment to provide new waste collection systems, waste minimisation activities and develop recycling and treatment facilities that reduce reliance on landfill.

All three strategies aim to achieve high levels of recycling and recovery, equal to or greater than regional or national targets. An action plan setting out how these targets will be achieved and implemented accompanies each document. Chapter 4 overleaf provides further information on these aims and targets.

New facilities will be developed to deal with Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham's left over municipal waste through the private finance initiative to ensure these targets are met. Private operators will operate these facilities on behalf of the three councils.