The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the new policy document, National Planning Policy for Waste, "changes the previous policy, and means councils can no longer give special consideration to locational needs, or wider economic benefits the site could bring, over other considerations, as justification for building waste facilities on green belt land".
The department said communities secretary Eric Pickles had "strengthened the policy on planning for waste facilities such as recycling plants making clear that companies and councils looking to build these should first look for suitable sites and areas on brownfield land".
It said the new measures would ensure the green belt could continue to offer a "strong defence" against urban sprawl in our towns and cities, and the new policy "brings waste into line with the policies on other development, where approval should only be given in very special circumstances, and brownfield sites should be sought in the first instance".
The document says that green belts "have special protection in respect to development".
"In preparing local plans, waste planning authorities, including by working collaboratively with other planning authorities, should first look for suitable sites and areas outside the green belt for waste management facilities that, if located in the green belt, would be inappropriate development. Local planning authorities should recognise the particular locational needs of some types of waste management facilities when preparing their local plan", it says.
Elsewhere, the document says that, in preparing local plans, waste planning authorities should "ensure that the planned provision of new capacity and its spatial distribution is based on robust analysis of best available data and information, and an appraisal of options. Spurious precision should be avoided".
The document also says councils should work "jointly and collaboratively" with other planning authorities to collect and share data and information on waste.