Carrier bag charge mentioned by Environment Secretary in speech, but nothing else on resources

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Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom’s speech to the Conservative Party conference had little in it for the resources sector.

While she mentioned the introduction of the carrier bag charge in England last year, as well as her intention to ban microbeads in cosmetic products, there was no information on what leaving the European Union would mean for the implementation of the circular economy package in the UK.

CIWM chief executive Steve Lee welcomed the fact that the Prime Minister Theresa May in her speech gave an idea of when the UK will trigger Article 50 to leave the EU and that European law will be transposed into UK law.

But he warned that the future of the UK resources sector “hangs as much in the balance today as it did before the Conservative Party Conference”.

He added: “Beyond promising both a tailored and ambitious approach to environmental protection in Defra’s 25-year environment plan, Andrea Leadsom’s speech yesterday offered up little detail on the department’s approach to Brexit, despite the fact that UK policy in this area is largely framed around and driven by EU legislation.

“Myriad questions remain, including the outlook for the EU Circular Economy package, which could be on the EU statute book before the UK departs. We must also keep an eye out for more detail on exactly how changes to the existing legislation will be made when the time comes. Will it be a truly consultative (and potentially, therefore, long drawn out and complex) process as May promises or will Ministers be given executive powers?

“Looking on the positive side, there is everything to play for and CIWM is and will continue to engage with all four UK governments to ensure that the UK has a robust and ambitious waste and resources strategy in the future. On the down side, investment in services and infrastructure requires long term certainty and it is hard to say when our industry will have that luxury again.”