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Brexit could cause issue with getting rid of Norfolk's waste, says council

PUBLISHED: 13:47 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:00 24 January 2019

Norfolk could face a problem in how it deals with waste if Brexit hampers exporting it, council officers have said. Pic: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Norfolk could face a problem in how it deals with waste if Brexit hampers exporting it, council officers have said. Pic: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

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Council bosses fear Brexit could create a problem with disposing of Norfolk’s waste - the bulk of which is exported overseas.

They are also worried about the impact on workers in health and social care, while they want to press the government for fairer post-Brexit funding and extra cash to help businesses with changes.

Officers at Norfolk County Council have drawn up a report on the implications Brexit will have on the authority, to be presented to councillors on Monday.

They say around three quarters of the county’s residual waste is exported for fuel. But officers warn: “This option may no longer be viable, or as competitive, in the event of Brexit - eg from the introduction of bans or fiscal barriers, as well as increased controls for moving waste.

“However, there is a need for waste in some member states for fuel, so there may be interest in preserving the viability of fuel exports from the UK.”

Under the EU settlement scheme, EU citizens and families who have lived in the UK for at least five years will be able to apply to carry on living and working in the UK post Brexit through ‘settled status’, so long as their application is approved.

People who have not lived in the UK for five years must apply for pre-settled status first.

While the council says its own staff are unlikely to be significantly affected, there could be repercussions in the wider health and social care workforce.

In terms of business, officers say: “Approximately a third of Norfolk businesses will be impacted in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit - both those that trade with the EU and those that trade with non-EU companies under existing EU agreements.

“The severity of that impact will depend on the specifics of goods, partner country and relationships with the UK.”

The EU is Norfolk’s largest export market, accounting for 53pc of trade (£2.1bn) and worth more than the rest of world exports combined. The EU is also the largest import source for Norfolk, accounting for 63pc of trade (£6.5bn), higher than the national average of 55pc.

The report says the council will need to provide extra help to businesses post-Brexit, including support to deal with new administration costs, helping them trade in new markets and developing skills to mitigate against labour shortages.

The council stressed the paper was intended to outline the long-term implications of Brexit, rather than immediate risks.

A spokesman said: “We are working together with our partners, as part of the Norfolk Resilience Forum, to prepare for all types of scenarios, which includes the UK’s exit from the European Union.

“We are also working closely with organisations such as the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce to ensure that engagement has been taking place with businesses and stakeholders to create a two-way conversation.

“Despite the uncertainty, we are anticipating that Brexit will have minimum disruption on Norfolk County Council as we are well prepared for areas of identified risk, including a no-deal scenario.”

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