Natural Resources Wales' Chief Executive Emyr Roberts has pledged to work with the waste industry in order to achieve Welsh Government's ambition of becoming a high recycling nation by 2025 and a zero waste nation by 2050.
In a speech to the Chartered Institution of Waste Management's Towards Zero Waste conference today (Tuesday 4 March, 2014), Dr Roberts acknowledged the challenges facing the waste sector and underlined Natural Resources Wales' commitment to promote good practice and implement fair regulation.
Ensuring the legitimate waste sector is not undermined by those who operate on the margins of legality remains a top priority for Natural Resources Wales.
Dr Roberts said:
"As an organisation, our aim is deliver the best possible environmental, social and economic outcomes for people and communities in Wales.
"As a regulator, we will seek better, smarter regulation that minimises the burdens for business, but does not compromise the protection of people or the environment."
Natural Resources Wales will employ a combination of robust enforcement powers to deal with illegal operators alongside providing guidance to the industry, while reducing bureaucracy and excessive costs.
And it takes a risk-based approach to both enforcement and permitting. All enforcement action should be proportionate to the risk posed to people and the environment. Priority will be given to investigations where there is a serious breach of the law or where the environment or people are seriously threatened.
The same approach also influences permitting decisions.
Natural Resources Wales will work with the industry to remove unnecessary burdens – for example, by assessing whether the need for a permit is proportionate to the risks to people and the environment.
Dr Roberts added:
"We want to work with the waste sector to deliver the shared goals and outcomes that we all want.
"So, our approach recognises the differing levels of risk. We know that a 'one size fits all' approach isn't the most appropriate.
"We are committed to supporting novel approaches, innovation and learning. We want to encourage quality operators in the market, improve the range of waste facilities in Wales, and drive out those who are operating illegally.
"I am proud of the work that we do to support the waste sector and of the environmental management system that we have in place to encourage best environmental practices, which includes the minimisation of waste."