Recommendations for Further Studies and Engagement

At this stage, further comparison between the UVF site based tool approach and the laboratories is not considered warranted.   In summary, it is unlikely that the UVF site based tool approach and current laboratory approaches are going to directly correlate given the alternative interpretive approaches followed. Further detail on this is provided in Attachment 1. Correlation could probably be increased if improvements were made to standardise sampling, handling and specification of analysis as discussed below.  The UVF site based tool does however offer an apparently valid alternative and rapid methodology to detect coal tar if concerns are raised midway through a project.  The issues regarding the ability of landfills and waste facilities to accept waste based on UVF site based tool analysis alone without laboratory testing remains. 

Further demonstration of compatibility with WM3 and discussions between the UVF site based tool supplier and regulators is likely to be required to enable the wider use of the tool.  It is unlikely that laboratories would be keen to move towards UVF as an alternative testing method for coal tar given their considerable investment in GC-MS and GC-FID instrumentation.  Further accreditation of asphalt matrices is also likely to be commercially challenging.

Transport Scotland has issued a guidance document entitled “An approach to the cold recycling of bitumen and tar bound roads” which focuses on utilising clause 947 and 948 of the Specification for Highways Works. Despite this being circulated to SEPA for comment during development, it is understood that SEPA has not formally responded to the final version of this document.  Transport Scotland’s position largely advocates the use of AWCCT in a cold recycled binder layer irrespective of the degree of coal tar presence or whether it could be classified as Hazardous Waste if removed from site.  It emphasises the need to provide appropriate information to SEPA to allow them to assess the proposed use and provide prior approval of the proposed works. It provides guidance and a framework by which operators can demonstrate to SEPA that they meet their requirements, thus streamlining the process. This approach will reduce the volume of AWCCT that requires off-site disposal where the site is of sufficient scale to warrant mobilisation of the recycling plant. However, there will still the possibility that excess materials which cannot be accommodated in the final road levels will require off-site disposal (and therefore, waste classification using WM3). SEPA recognition of this publication would assist the industry in discharging its legal duties and meeting its sustainability objectives.

The anticipated publication of a regulatory position paper by SEPA on AWCCT management and their acknowledgment of the ADEPT approach on the assessment of coal tar is key to providing industry with clarity on the approach to sustainably manage AWCCT using recycling approaches and allow a reduction in disposal of materials to landfill, particularly in smaller projects where cold recycling approach described above cannot be applied due to the commercial constraints. It is however highlighted that the ultimate classification of waste will remain with the receiving waste facilities.

Given the current ambiguity in WM3, it should be recognised that there is a risk that a push for greater clarity and re-evaluation of the guidance could have the unintended consequences of the regulators adopting an ultra-precautionary approach which would result in a higher proportion of AWCCT being classified as Hazardous than is currently the case. It should be recognised that the underpinning definition of what makes waste Hazardous may mean that the effect of clarification may be the lowering of the threshold or increasing the complexity of the assessment.  Therefore any industry lobbying to amend the current WM3 approach should also take account of the sustainability and commercial challenges associated with the current availability of Hazardous Waste facilities in Scotland when assessing its viability.

Whilst there have been indications that a Scottish Landfill facility may start to accept AWCCT (17 03 01) again, there are currently no licenced landfills within Scotland that accept this Hazardous waste stream within Scotland.  As such it is understood that TS Network Operators are currently dispatching excess AWCCT to Northern England or the Netherlands.  Even if Avondale recommences accepting AWCCT (17 03 01), capacity will be limited and any misclassification of AWWCT with incidental coal tar content as Hazardous will result in the potentially unnecessary consumption of the limited landfill capacity. 

Giving the industry better guidance to allow waste producers and waste receivers to confidently and correctly assign AWCCT with incidental coal tar content as Non-Hazardous (17 03 02) will not only have a big commercial impact on the cost of waste disposal but also reduce the precautionary mischaracterisation of all AWCCT as the Hazardous waste stream 17 03 01.