Defra not taking advantage of waste opportunities, says Tory MP

Defra is still not looking at waste as an opportunity and should hand over full policy control to the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation (BIS), according to Conservative MP Laura Sandys.

Speaking at the Resource conference in London on Wednesday, Sandys said that Defra viewed waste as a problem to be tackled, whereas BIS would treat it as a resource to be cultivated.

“I believe we could get a more efficient system which reduces our carbon and reduces our waste,” she said. “Defra is there to manage waste but they are not looking at resources as an opportunity. Defra needs to manage the waste part of it but not the overall policy.” 

Sandys speech followed a theme of increasing efficiency with current resources – something she says is not a Government priority. “The Government thinks resources are cheap. But we know thats not the case. Politicians are always a little behind innovation; it’s up to industry to lead us forward.”

Resource productivity.

The South Thanet MP extended the idea of improving efficiency to the power grid, where power station currently lose 25-35% of their heat. “We should be looking to capture this heat and reuse it for turbine generation, or put it at the centre of district heating networks, but nothing is really being done,” she said.

“Ofwat [the water watchdog] set productivity targets for water companies on the plugging of leaks, and Ofgem needs to set similar targets to help reduce the vast amount of energy wasted in the grid and in generation.” 

A tradition coal-power plant sees about 35% of the energy in the coal delivered as electricity. That has increased by just 1% since 1970, and Sandys wants to see Ofgem tackle this problem by imposing a target of 4% efficiency improvement during the next parliament.

Resource effiency

In an exclusive interview with edie this week, EEF’s senior climate and environment policy adviser also demanded a new focus on resources from the next Government, calling for the establishment of an Office for Resource Management

The proposed body would encourage remanufacturing and join up thinking on resources across different departments, producing better data and forecasting, and encouraging innovation on a national level.

Earlier this week, the Green Alliance presented the case for a National Resources Council, which would theoretically strengthen the government’s ability to respond to resource supply threats and help businesses boost productivity.

Brad Allen

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