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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/leaving-decommissioned-pipes-in-excavations-rps-8/leaving-decommissioned-pipes-in-excavations-rps-8
Old pipes that are taken out of use (decommissioned) are classified as waste. If you leave the pipes in the ground you’re carrying out a waste disposal operation that would normally need an environmental permit.
If you follow the conditions in this regulatory position statement (RPS) you do not need to apply for a permit to leave decommissioned pipes in the ground.
This RPS only applies to laying replacement pipework alongside or through broken or damaged pipework. The methods most commonly used by utility providers or developers are:
- pipe bursting – digging two access points, pushing the new pipe into the old and pulling it through (any pipe fragments are contained by the soils and left in the ground)
- offline relay – digging the ground, laying the new pipe work next to the decommissioned pipe work and then filling in the excavation
If you’re laying replacement pipework in a different place to the broken or damaged pipework, this RPS does not apply.
In this case you must either:
- remove the damaged or broken pipework - complying with any relevant legislation
- apply for a permit to leave the broken or damaged pipework where it is
This RPS does not affect other statutory requirements which apply to the way in which asbestos pipes are dealt with.
1. Conditions you must comply with
You must meet these conditions to follow this RPS.
- remove from site any excavated sections or broken pieces of pipe that are not fully contained and take them to a suitably authorised site - following the requirements of the Hazardous Waste Regulations where relevant
- keep records of the condition and location of pipes and, if asked, give these records to any person likely to work on the disturbed pipes
- manage the disposal of any redundant asbestos cement pipe, or pipe burst material, as hazardous waste if they’re exposed by future activity
You must make sure that your activity does not endanger human health or the environment. You must not:
- cause a risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals
- cause a nuisance through noise or odours
- adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest
An RPS means that the Environment Agency will not normally take enforcement action against you provided:
- your activity meets the description set out in this RPS
- you comply with the conditions set out in this RPS
- your activity does not (and is not likely to) cause environmental pollution or harm human health
3. When to check back
This RPS will be reviewed by April 2020. You will need to check back then to see if it still applies or if you need to apply for a permit.
4. Contact the Environment Agency
Contact the Environment Agency if you need help.
National Customer Contact Centre
PO Box 544
Telephone 03708 506 506
Telephone from outside the UK (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm GMT) +44 (0) 114 282 5312
Minicom (for the hard of hearing) 03702 422 549
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm