Capital gains: a timely plan for infrastructure

A blueprint has been developed to help speed up the delivery of more waste and recycling facilities in London. Katie Coyne reports

It was fitting that London Remade's ambitious plan to speed up the delivery of waste recycling infrastructure should have been delivered at the Tate Modern. The former Bankside Power station decommissioned due to rising oil prices in 1981, is a fantastic example of reinvention - or recycling.

London Remade believes its Leave no footprint blueprint will help facilitate a creative and carefully thought out approach needed to deal with the capital's waste issues. It estimates that the city will need up to £4B in investment and hopes to speed this up by offering a "free consultancy" - practical business advice, assistance with grant applications, help finding site locations, materials, partners, funders and more.

Projects in progress
London Remade is already helping Powerday develop a recycling facility, processing construction and demolition waste as well as municipal solid waste in Willesden Junction. Other projects include the Chris Carey textile recycling scheme, the express recycling and plastics project and the day aggregates waste glass reprocessing scheme.

London Remade chief executive, Daniel Silverstone, described the Leave no footprint plan at its launch as "timely, innovative and practical." It would seem that many people agree as the organisation has reported a surge in inquiries since it was unveiled. Jamie Blake, London Remade's resource management director, says: "We had 350 hits on the Leave no footprint section of the website since the launch. And we have started to get proposals through.

"There seem to be a lot of people thinking along similar lines. The structure we have created gives people confidence to come out and talk about these ideas and find someone who can help them. It has sparked an awful lot of interest and the challenge now is to get some resources behind these projects.

"It's also a balance between trying to give people help and confidence and also being realistic - it might not be the right project, at the right time, or for London.

Everyone's diaries [at London Remade] are looking like a battleground."

London Remade hopes the plan will help deliver up to 20 more recycling and reprocessing facilities across the capital in the next five years. While PFI exists for larger projects, this type of financing can take a lot longer to get off the ground and is not always available for smaller projects.

This is why Leave no footprint is concentrating on projects worth between £5M and £30M. And according to Blake, most of the major banks were present at the launch and investors are now seriously engaging with the sector.

Corporate banking manager at the Allied Irish Bank (AIB), Martin Brown, says: "We set up an environmental team four years ago and we are trying to move the market from £15M to £50M transactions. There has been a shift from PFI to shorter-term transactions as local authorities try to meet LATS targets. There is a huge opportunity to develop these projects."

Andrew Hartley, from the Bank of Ireland, adds: "The waste sector and recycling and renewables is the hottest bit of the funding market at the moment."

Timing is everything
At the launch of the initiative, John Burns, Defra's waste implementation programme director, said timing was often critical in the successful implementation of these projects. He was in the main referring to the then imminent publication of the Waste Strategy for England and Wales.

This has since been postponed again, but Blake wants to allay fears that this could throw a spanner in the works and said projects can be "tweaked" in accordance with any new guidance.

"With their delay in publishing the strategy clearly they have taken the decision that they should wait for the Lyons report and budget. Provided it comes out by this summer I can't see it having an impact on progress," he says.

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