U1 waste exemption: use of waste in construction

The U1 exemption allows you to use suitable waste rather than virgin raw material or material that has ceased to be waste - for example by complying with a quality protocol.

Construction means building or engineering work - including repairing, altering, maintaining or improving existing work and preparatory or landscaping work.

Land reclamation is only allowed when it is an integral part of the construction activity.

Types of activity you can carry out

These include:

  • using crushed bricks, concrete, rocks and aggregate to create a noise bund around a new development and then using soil to landscape the area
  • using road planings and rubble to build a track, path or bridleway
  • using woodchip to construct a track, path or bridleway
  • bringing in soil from somewhere else to use in landscaping at housing developments

Types of activity you cannot carry out

You cannot:

  • treat waste to make it suitable to use - see related exemptions T5, T6 and T7 (you need to register T7 with your local authority), for treatment options
  • dispose of waste by using waste that is unsuitable or by using more waste than is needed. You need to be able to justify the amount needed
  • use waste for land reclamation, for example by infilling a hollow
  • register this exemption more than once at the same place for 3 years after registration
  • de-register and then renew this exemption at the same place within a 3 year period
  • store the waste for longer than 12 months before you use it

Types of waste you can use

The types of waste you can use under this exemption have been grouped together into 5 tables. These show the maximum quantities you can use and conditions for using the specific types of waste.

The waste codes are those listed in the List of Wastes (LoW) Regulations. You need to make sure your waste fits within the waste code and the description in the table.

You can use up to a total of 5,000 tonnes of the waste from this list for any type of construction:

Waste code Types of waste
010102 Waste from mineral non-metalliferous excavation
010408 Waste gravel and crushed rock not containing hazardous substances
010409 Waste sand and clay from exploration, mining, quarrying or treatment of minerals
020202 Shellfish shells from which the soft tissue or flesh has been removed only
101208 Waste ceramics, bricks, tiles and construction products (after thermal processing)
101314 Waste concrete and concrete sludge
170101 Concrete
170102 Bricks
170103 Tiles and ceramics
170107 Mixtures of concrete, bricks, tiles and ceramics not containing hazardous substances
170508 Track ballast not containing hazardous substances
191205 Glass
191209 Minerals (for example sand and stone) from waste management or water treatment facilities
191212 Aggregates only

Within the 5,000 tonnes total, the waste described below can only be used for drainage work carried out under the Land Drainage Act 1991, the Water Resources Act 1991 or the Environment Act 1995. This is work that can be carried out only by drainage authorities such as Inland Drainage Boards, local authorities or the Environment Agency:

Waste code Types of waste
170506 Dredging spoil not containing hazardous substances

You can use up to a total of 1,000 tonnes of the waste in this list for construction:

Waste code Type of waste
020399, 020401 Soil from cleaning and washing fruit and vegetables only
170504 Soil and stones (from construction and demolition sites) not containing hazardous substances
170506 Dredging spoil not containing hazardous substances
191302 Solid waste from soil remediation not containing hazardous substances
200202 Soil and stones

Within the 1,000 tonnes total, you can only use the waste below to build tracks, paths, bridleways or car parks. The waste must be processed into chips before you use it:

Waste code Type of waste
170302 Bituminous mixtures not containing coal tar
020103 Plant tissue waste
030101, 030301 Untreated waste bark, cork and wood only
030105 Untreated wood, including sawdust, shavings and cuttings from untreated wood only
170201 Untreated wood only
191207 Untreated wood not containing hazardous substances
200138 Untreated wood not containing hazardous substances

You can use up to a total of 50,000 tonnes of the waste in this list for building roads only. The road should be constructed to a specific engineering standard and have a sealed surface in order to qualify for this larger limit:

Waste code Type of waste
170302 Bituminous mixtures not containing coal tar
170504 Road sub base only

You may use a combination of wastes from each of the tables, provided you do not exceed the limits for each table.

What else you may need with a U1 exemption

As well as registering this exemption, you may also need to comply with other legislation. This could include:

If you are building in the floodplain or near an ordinary watercourse, contact your lead local flood authority (county council, unitary authority or Internal Drainage Board) to discuss whether any consent other than planning permission is needed. This exemption can be carried out along a linear place such as a highway.

Guidance: meaning of ‘place’ for a linear site

These are related exemptions where you can use or treat waste:

Using more waste than your exemption allows

If you need to use more waste than you are allowed under this exemption, you will need to apply for an environmental permit. Standard rules permits are available for using waste in construction not covered by this exemption:

Standard permits for waste operations

Register a U1 exemption

You must register this exemption with the Environment Agency if you meet the requirements.

Published 12 September 2019