Defra's damp squib - the Waste Review

If Eric Pickles had got his way, the weekly bin round would have been making a comeback across our streets and the Waste Review would have fired up most of England. 

But the pickle got squashed, and in the end, the Review didn't really ignite. It just deflated under the weight of disappointment. Some have already consigned it to trash – they don't even think it's worth the paper it's written on. 

A year of consultation should have afforded a great window of opportunity to take some brave decisions and draw up strategies that would effect real change. But 12 months is a long time in politics – and this coalition has never felt at ease with itself.

So cue instead bickering between politicians, relentless friction between government departments – in particular Defra and the DCGL – civil servants cheesed off with certain ministers, and what do you get? Indecision, and a rather fitting anti-climax.

Our ‘greenest ever' government certainly must be feeling ill with the colour, if nothing else. It must know it is out of its depth on such issues – surely?

The ministers tasked with environmental policy don't really inspire much confidence when they talk about "smelly waste" and have trouble pronouncing words like ‘pyrolysis' and ‘gasification'. Really, it must all be quite alien to them.

So where do we go from here? Well, the waste industry will just get on with doing what it's always done – trying to extract value from that which we throw away. And not getting much credit or recognition for it. 

At least Europe offers a glimmer of hope with the Waste Framework Directive. The EU has been the most effective driver – along with the landfill tax levy – and the UK does tend to respond to European legislation quite well.

But when all is said and done, I believe commercial realities will drive this industry forward – not a bit of limp-wristed policy. 

Follow me on twitter @ecoscribbler

maxine perella

Topics: edie
Tags: consultation | eric pickles | gasification | waste framework
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