Community buy-in strengthens support for waste facilities

Support for local waste facilities increases when community buy-in is offered and is even stronger when the buy-in is a personal benefit such as a discount on energy bills.

That is one of the headline conclusions in Public attitudes to community buy-in for waste and resource infrastructure, a new report launched at the RWM exhibition this week.

Commissioned by Ray Georgeson Resources on behalf of Sita UK, and carried out by GfK NOP, the project drew on research in England that assessed and quantified public views about community buy-in for waste infrastructure.

Drawing on the report’s conclusions, Ray Georgeson, director of Ray Georgeson Resources, offered three policy recommendations.

He said that while the study had gleaned public support for incentives such as energy bill and council tax discounts, further, more detailed, research was needed to establish the appropriate levels of community buy-in incentives and qualification through proximity to a facility.

Georgeson added that where a utility discount approach to community buy-in was on the table, the incentive should be retained with the property and not the property owner or tenant at the time the plant is developed.

He also stressed the importance of early public engagement by the local authority involved in developing a facility, particularly on the principle and detail of community buy-in.

“I think leaving the discussion about community buy-in and community support until you are down to the last two or three in the tender process is the wrong way to do it,” he warned.

“This should be about an honest acknowledgement of the need to compensate and acknowledge a perceived disamenity impact on a community in relation to a development and not try to hide it.”

Georgeson told delegates that there was a degree of public scepticism around the ambition of developers and local government to recycle, reuse and prevent waste before building more disposal facilties.

He called on both to do more to establish a climate in which there was greater public acceptance of disposal, treatment and energy recovery facilities.

Nick Warburton

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