Slough Borough Council sought reassurance from both the NHS and Department for transport after it was revealed clinical waste from NHS hospitals had been transported and disposed of in ways which normally breach safety regulations.

The government granted companies special dispensation for clinical waste transport and disposal as 17 NHS trusts terminated their contracts with Healthcare Environmental Services, which was found to be storing waste at up to five times the permitted amount.

Dispensation was first given from the Environment Agency to Grundon Waste Management in August, permitting the company to burn hazardous waste at its Slough site, in an incinerator normally used for municipal waste.

Special dispensation was then granted by DfT to facility management company Mitie on October 12 to transport the waste from the 17 NHS trusts based in Yorkshire to Slough for one week, by using processes which would ordinarily breach the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009.

A DfT spokesperson said the permissions were granted ‘due to exceptional circumstances’ while the Environment Agency said the waste was being “incinerated at appropriate temperatures, sufficient to destroy the infectious properties of the waste, and there are no public health risks”.

A spokesperson for Slough Borough Council said: “The council has sought reassurance from the NHS and DfT that this waste is being transported and disposed of safely.”