Industry leaders have called for “robust action” against scrap merchants who miss this month’s deadline for competence testing – despite complaints that the tests are unfair and irrelevant.
Following changes in regulations in 2008, all managers of waste facilities with Environment Agency permits must have passed a WAMITAB Continuing Competence test by 29 February 2012.
But some small scrap merchants, who were previously not required to pass competence tests, have insisted the new system is too expensive and too difficult.
BMRA Head of environment Howard Bluck said: “Since January 2011, we have repeatedly reminded BMRA members that require an operator competence assessment to make the necessary preparations in good time and not to leave things to the last minute.”
“Despite this, we remain concerned that come 29 February, there will be a significant number of operators across the metals recycling sector who have failed to meet their competence obligations.
“We believe the Environment Agency must take robust action against them; only a strong enforcement policy will help maintain the credibility of the competence scheme.”
The Chartered Institution for Wastes Management, which runs the test alongside WAMITAB, has estimated that up to 75% of some types of waste facilities may not meet the deadline to have at least one manager qualified.
It said in early January that only 675 tests had been successfully completed, while there were 2,546 permitted metal recycling sites.
A CIWM spokesman said: “If site operators fail to take action by the deadline, the Environment Agency will no longer accept them as technically competent.
“This could result in some sites being unable to operate legally under their permit or having to make special arrangements to show that they are being managed by people who are still technically competent.”