Two key trade associations have issued their responses to the Government’s Industrial Strategy.
Launched in January, by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the consultation on the strategy to develop better UK industry has now closed.
However, with the announcement of a potential General Election on 8 June by Prime Minster Theresa May, it remains to be seen what will happen with the strategy beyond the election.
CIWM has said it would like to see more attention paid to resource productivity and security.
CIWM chief executive Colin Church (pictured) said: “Sustainable economic growth is not just about labour productivity. The availability of resources – raw materials, water, energy, land use – will also be critical to UK industrial competitiveness and resilience and must be a cross cutting priority in the Industrial Strategy.
“The Government’s Resource Security Action Plan, published in 2012 and due for updating, noted that growing competition for resources was already having an impact on UK businesses, with 29% of profit warnings issued by FTSE350 companies in 2011 attributed to rising resource prices. Add in other risks, such as significantly increased price volatility in some commodity markets, and the potential impact of Brexit on the availability or price of material resources needed by the UK economy, and it is not hard to see why CIWM and many others will be trying to get this message across to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
“Policy making in this space must also be co-ordinated. The reliance placed by the Green Paper on Defra’s highly anticipated Defra 25-Year Environment Plan framework, which Ministers as recently as last week were promising for the current Parliament, coupled with the news of a General Election in June, should provide the necessary impetus for this important document to be published as soon as possible.”
CIWM’s response stresses the dual contribution that the resource and waste management industry can make to future UK prosperity, firstly as a dynamic sector that provides over 100,000 jobs and almost £7 billion Gross Value Added to the economy, and secondly through the role it can play in improving resource productivity and efficiency in the UK through sustainable waste practices and the supply of the quality secondary raw materials and feedstocks. It highlights how the sector can help the Government to meet one of the headline aims of the new strategy, namely inclusive growth and employment, both because secondary resources derived from waste can support local economic development and because industrial growth and new housing requires appropriate waste management services and infrastructure. This potentially means more job opportunities in some of the UK’s traditional low growth/high unemployment areas.
The CIWM response also stresses that transitioning to a resource efficient, low carbon economy will require a renewed focus on ‘green skills’ as part of the strategy and cites that skills related to low carbon growth, resource productivity and efficiency are increasingly important to most professions and supply chains from engineering through to architecture and manufacturing through to retail and hospitality.
The Resource Association has warmly welcomed the Government’s approach to creating an Industrial Strategy, supporting much of the thrust and intent in the Green Paper.
Its primary concerns about the Green Paper centre on the low profile of the resources industries and the limited acknowledgement of the potential and value of a resource efficient, circular economy to underpin our future economic success. In its submission, it called for:
- The resource efficient, circular economy to be considered as a pillar of the Industrial Strategy in its own right;
- Greater attention to be given to the future business risks of overdependence on material inputs from high-risk developing economies and a revival of the idea of a ‘Stern for Resources’ review of resource productivity and resource scarcity;
- Building a stronger focus on quality in the use of materials and resources, ensuring that quality feedstock for recyclers and reprocessors is at the heart of a resource efficient economy;
- A Resources Sector Council to respond to Government’s calls for industries to unite behind strong leadership to develop in partnership our new economy.
Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson said: “The Government’s Green Paper presented a huge opportunity to inspire business around a new approach to Industrial Strategy and the principles within it are good news.
“We were disappointed that there was only modest reference to the value of the resources sector and have urged Government to see us as a critical foundation sector for the future growth of the UK economy. We stand ready to work with Government and colleagues in the resources sector to collaborate and develop the partnerships needed to make a resource efficient circular economy a reality.”