Legal fears are believed to have been behind Defra’s decision to abandon guidance for councils over municipal waste collections, commingling and TEEP. This is despite the government reassuring councils that guidance was being drawn up by the government last summer
Last June resource minister Lord de Mauley had reassured councils that guidance was being drawn up by the department but his successor, Dan Rogerson, has vowed to step away from waste issues and appears to have pulled the plug on the guidance.
The decision comes despite local authorities seeking guidance over when commingled collections are permissible under European law from January 2015. Instead they will now have to rely on the contents of a letter from the former resource minister.
Defra has yet to provide further details over the decision, but it is thought that the threat of a legal challenge over the wording of any guidance has seen the document shelved. It is unclear whether the draft guidance has been circulated or will be shredded, or if Defra might choose to keep it in case future court cases might need it to issue guidance.
As such councils may be required to consult their own legal advice in order to ascertain whether commingled collections can legally be carried out, with authorities otherwise facing legal challenge.