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05 Nov 2010 11:11:56

CIWM response to the CSR October 2010

he Chartered Institution of Wastes Management's response to the Comprehensive Spending Review
22 October 2010

While recognising that the Government's priority must be to tackle UK national debt, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has expressed concern that sustainable waste and resources management has been short changed in the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review delivered yesterday.

While we acknowledge the need for significant cuts, building a more sustainable approach to waste and resources means high quality collection and recycling services for householders and businesses, high quality sorting and treatment facilities, and high quality recovered materials for industry and there is an unavoidable cost attached to meeting these fundamental needs, says CIWM chief executive Steve Lee. This industry has a significant role to play in reducing carbon, helping to tackle climate change and delivering green jobs, a role which needs to be acknowledged by government for the sector to be able to deliver.

With local government funding to be cut by 26% over the next four years, there is no doubt that frontline waste and recycling services will be hit and the ability of local authorities to absorb rising waste management costs and meet higher diversion and recycling targets will be compromised. In addition, although it welcomes the increased flexibility afforded by the removal of ring-fencing, CIWM is concerned that waste services could lose out to other spending areas with more political leverage at the local level.

The impact of cuts to DEFRA, Environment Agency and other important delivery bodies will not become clear for some time, but could ultimately compromise delivery in important areas, including waste minimisation and environmental protection.

CIWM is also concerned about the future of funding mechanisms for new waste infrastructure. The withdrawal for funding for seven waste PFI projects across the country sends a negative signal to the market at a time when considerable effort has been made to generate confidence in waste treatment infrastructure as a stable and long term investment opportunity. CIWM has, in the past, said that PFI is a complex, expensive and inflexible process that is unlikely to meet short and medium term infrastructure needs, but believes that too little effort has gone into encouraging alternative forms of finance. Such efforts are now needed more than ever.

CIWM welcomes the Chancellor's commitment to maintain the flexibility on prudential borrowing, and the news confirming that the Renewable Heat Incentive subsidy will go ahead. However, it is disappointed by the low level of funding allocated for the Green Investment Bank, which falls far short of the levels recommended by financial experts and may not provide any meaningful support for waste treatment infrastructure.

The industry recognises that it will now be incumbent on the public, private and third sectors to work more closely together to develop innovative solutions to infrastructure provision in the future, and these partnerships are already happening. However, to ensure that sustainable waste and resource management does not run the risk of being consigned to the back burner, the government must show leadership by providing a robust policy framework and clearly stating the desired outcomes if it is to fulfil its promise to be the greenest government ever.

Ultimately, meeting the Landfill Directive diversion targets is not the sole priority – they represent the bare minimum in terms of what we should be doing. We are talking about conserving valuable and, in some cases, rapidly diminishing raw materials. We are talking about improving our energy security and renewable performance by recovering energy from waste, and about fundamentally changing consumer and business attitudes towards waste to help reduce carbon and put waste back to work. This has the potential to deliver a more productive and efficient economy and create thousands of green-collar jobs in the process, but it cannot be done on a shoestring, added Mr Lee.

The CIWM is committed to working with central and local government and all the relevant sector stakeholders to maintain the substantial progress that this innovative and dynamic industry has made to date and maximise the contribution it can make to a more environmentally and economically sustainable future.

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