The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has expressed its concern about the short and long term impact of the decision by Defra to withdraw funding from three PFI projects.
Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority, North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council and Bradford and Calderdale Council all had funding withdrawn last week for energy from waste projects by Defra.
CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said: “This is an example of poor government on a number of important levels. Firstly, it is an inefficient and inappropriate way to manage the delivery of essential infrastructure. Similar to the seven projects refused credit in 2010, the three local authorities involved were clearly caught by surprise.
“PFI is a complex and costly process and rescinding promised funding to these projects could undermine years of work and taxpayers money. By creating confusion and uncertainty, it is also likely to damage investor confidence in an industry that already faces challenges in attracting the necessary funding.
“The move also serves to highlight the Government’s lack of vision and ambition. It would appear that the aim is for England to meet the bare minimum landfill diversion required by the Landfill Directive and no more.
“This is short term thinking and fails to take into account the fact that landfill diversion and other waste targets are likely to be raised in the next couple of years. And when industry experts can’t agree whether we have too much or too little waste infrastructure, how much waste will be produced in future, or how much of the infrastructure currently in the pipeline will actually be delivered, Defra’s confidence in its projections, and the lack of any margin for error, could be seen as cavalier.
“Finally, this decision flies in the face of the widely acknowledged need for a long term, joined up approach to resource management in the wider sense. CIWM is technology neutral, but at a time when exports of waste derived fuel continue to rise, Ofgem issues a warning about the UK’s growing reliance on energy imports, and fuel poverty is a regular headline, EfW may not be just a better alternative to landfill for non-recyclable waste, but also a useful source of home grown energy while another Government department makes up its mind on our future energy policy.”