The waste industry will be left in an unclear position if the UK votes to leave the EU, according to FCC’s Kristian Dales.
Its sales and marketing director warned that the UK would face having to deal with a wealth of legal formalities before exit, while it would be unclear whether the waste industry would still be bound by various EU directives and targets until the UK terminates its members.
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He said: “The circular economy represents more of an unknown. Should we leave Europe, the EU’s package of measures would unlikely be transposed into UK law. However should Scotland subsequently vote to split from the UK, and rejoin Europe, we might see an almost unprecedented situation whereby Scotland ends up adopting the EU circular economy package and the rest of the UK does not. Given Scottish appetite for a more progressive and reformist waste agenda, this could lead to heightened tensions within the industry as it attempts to address these cross-border conflicting priorities.
“Ultimately, what these scenarios highlight are pressures that run much deeper than the UK’s relationship to Europe. The industry faces a number of system constraints – weak policy, outdated legislation, devolved agendas, a lack of leadership on vision or strategy – and an in/out vote is not going to fix that anytime soon.
“Because of this, the EU referendum vote could be perceived as a red herring. But it does offer the opportunity, regardless of the outcome, for the industry to re-engage with Government. Post-referendum, it is likely there will be a change in political dynamic – potentially a reshuffle or change in party leader depending on the outcome – and this could prove fortuitous timing to push for a united call to action.
“A roots-and-branch review of how this industry operates is long overdue. It could mark the starting point for a re-energised dialogue with ministers, and pave the way for the development of a coherent, long-term directional framework.
“In or out of Europe, this industry will prosper. But if it is to fully capitalise on its ability to improve the UK’s energy and resource security, much stronger domestic policy signals are needed to enable it to invest with confidence and certainty.”