Leading figures in five trade bodies have joined forces to write an open letter warning the Government not to sleepwalk into a waste infrastructure shortfall.
The letter has been signed by Institution of Civil Engineers director general Nick Baveystock; Environmental Services Association director general Barry Dennis; Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) president Steve Kent, CIWM chief executive Steve Lee and Local Government Technical Advisors Group president Phil Moore.
It follows a letter send a month ago to Defra from ADEPT expressing its fears that the Government’s recent decision to withdraw millions of pounds of Government funding from three major residual waste projects that had featured in the National Waste Infrastructure Plan would damage the confidence of investors in the waste sector and in the UK’s wider reputation for delivering new infrastructure.
The letter said: “Last week, it was revealed that emerging waste trends show that more waste is being collected by local authorities across the country, recycling rates are flattening and residual waste levels are on the rise. Local authorities again wrote to [Environment Secretary] Owen Paterson calling for an urgent review of the data and the UK’s ability to meet landfill diversion targets.
“The latest statistics, combined with a potential shortfall in the amount of waste treatment capacity coming on stream in the next few years indicates that the Government’s decision to withdraw funding is short-sighted in relation to the UK’s waste policy objectives.
“Our concern is that the data used by the Government to make recent crucial investment decisions has now been shown to be out of date and this poses a genuine risk to the UK’s ability to meet its 2020 European Landfill Directive targets, which would leave the country unable to avoid very significant EU fines in the future.”
The letter added that there has been no response from the Secretary of State to either of the letters sent by ADEPT on behalf of local authorities, but it appears that Defra has no intention of conducting a review.
It warned: “Rather than dismissing warnings from the very organisations that are at the sharp end of implementing policies, ministers should recognise that the Government’s commitment to long-term funding for infrastructure, and the UK’s strategy to stop waste being sent to landfill, are in peril.
“How we deal with waste affects every single one of us – as householders, businesses and taxpayers. That is why we are so publicly repeating our warnings. Once again, we call on the Government to confirm its commitment now, to the existing infrastructure programme, and review the situation urgently to provide assurance – and evidence – that the UK will be properly equipped to meet its European Landfill Directive targets in seven years’ time. Defra will be realeasing the UK’s official annual waste data in November – and that would be an ideal time to start a review.”