There was nearly 700 million cubic metres of remaining landfill capacity at existing permitted sites in England and Wales on December 31st 2006*, enough to accommodate national landfill requirements for 7 years at current rates of disposal. Remaining landfill capacity increased (by 1.5%) in 2006 as several new sites and extensions to existing sites were permitted.
*The landfill capacity survey for Wales was carried out in April 2007.
Impact of EC Landfill Directive
A new classification system for landfill sites was introduced in 2004. Landfill operators had to reapply for permits under the new classification and, a number of sites closed or ceased to accept certain types of waste. The full impact of these changes did not become evident until 2006.
Landfill capacity in different types of site
At the end of December 2006 14% of total capacity was in inert only landfill sites (99 million cubic metres of voidspace); 78% was in non-hazardous facilities (545 million m3); 2% was in merchant sites permitted to accept hazardous waste (15 million m3), and 5% was in restricted-user sites that could only accept waste from one source (usually a single company). Inert-only capacity and capacity at non-hazardous sites permitted to accept stabilised non-reactive hazardous waste increased by around 30% between 2005 and 2006, while capacity at non-hazardous and hazardous sites changed very little.
Regional variation in available voidspace
In December 2006 Yorkshire & the Humber had more than 100 million cubic metres of remaining capacity at existing sites and the South East and North West regions around 96 million m3 each, while Wales had 38 million m3 and London only 10 million m3.
More than 60% of merchant hazardous waste landfill capacity was located in the North West or North East regions.
A calculation of remaining life expectancy for existing sites (at current input rates) give Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East region the longest void-life with 11 years, and London, and East of England together the shortest with around 4 years.