Green energy campaigners describe failure to act as ‘missed opportunity’ [Image: WindEurope]
The UK Government has dismissed calls from WindEurope for a continent-wide landfill ban on decommissioned turbine blades by 2025.
Officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told reNEWS they do “not have plans” to legislate against the practice.
A Defra spokesperson said that domestic law does, however, prioritise waste prevention through a three-stage policy for re-use and recycling before waste is finally committed to landfill.
“The Government continues to incentivise the diversion of waste away from landfill to be managed further up the waste hierarchy through the Landfill Tax.
“Good justification is required for moving down each step of the hierarchy”, he added.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government said it has not ruled out a complete ban and said an announcement on a policy will be made in “coming months” as part of its Circular Economy Bill.
The bill enables Scottish Ministers to introduce charges on the provision of items, such as single-use disposable items, which are deemed unnecessary or are problematic to recycle or harmful to the environment.
A spokesperson said: “We are already taking action to maximise recovery of materials from decommissioned wind turbine infrastructure.
“Guidance on the decommissioning of offshore renewable energy installations is being actively developed and is expected to be published in the coming months.”
It comes two weeks after WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson urged ministers from every state on the continent to “heed the call”, regardless of EU membership.
Dickson made the case on 16 June at a meeting of the Spanish wind association’s annual congress.
He also said he wanted a commitment from the European wind industry to re-use, recycle, or recover 100% of decommissioned blades and committed the industry to not sending decommissioned blades from Europe to other countries outside of Europe for landfilling.
He told the congress that although composite blades are non-toxic, the practice of committing them to landfill was “incompatible with the wind industry’s commitment to full circularity”.
He said: “Our call is addressed to the EU but we hope that all countries in Europe will take heed and apply a similar ban, and we note that the UK retains a very strong commitment to the very highest standards of environmental protection, including waste treatment.”
By 2025, 2800 turbines a year are predicted to be decommissioned in Europe, increasing to 5700 annually by 2030 as many of Europe’s oldest wind farms reach end of life.
But so far only four out of 27 EU member states enforce a landfill ban, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Finland.
Sam Chetan-Welsh, political campaigner for the Greenpeace UK, described the UK’s lack of as a “missed opportunity”, adding: “When an industry is calling for regulation to clean up its act, but the government won’t help, there’s clearly a problem.
“What’s ridiculous is this is a missed opportunity for the UK to create green jobs which can help replace those in declining industries like fossil fuels.”