Morley calls for greater PFI role in waste management

Environment Minister Elliot Morley highlighted the increasingly important role of the private sector in providing more effective and efficient waste solutions , this week.

Speaking at Defra s Investment Opportunities: Municipal Waste and PFI conference Mr Morley said the challenges ahead in waste management could open the door to a £10 billion investment opportunity for the private sector.

Waste management represents a key environmental challenge for the UK. It is an area in which spending has grown and is set to continue to grow significantly in the coming years. This is reflected in the extent to which waste is being pushed up the political agenda, both locally, nationally and internationally, Mr Morley said. This growth in demand needs to be mirrored by development of the private sector capacity, with greater investment in the collection, management and disposal of waste. Increasingly this can be achieved through the Private Finance Initiative.

He went on to say that there was clear evidence of a growing demand for PFI from local authorities, with nine waste projects having been signed already, and a further seven in procurement.

We are aware that issues such as planning application delays and public concern over health can form barriers that prevent private sector investors from getting involved in waste management projects. However, we have confidence in our current policies for local authorities to press ahead urgently with the planning applications for new waste management facilities in line with the new emphasis on minimisation, re-use and recycling, as opposed to landfill, Mr Morley said.

The UK has the worst waste disposal record in Europe, with 80% of municipal solid waste going to landfill. The Landfill Directive requires the volume of biodegradable waste to be reduced to 75% of 1995 levels by 2010 and 35% by 2020. The Strategy Unit report Waste Not Want Not estimated that the infrastructure investment needed to meet these targets is around £600 million to £700 million per year for the next ten years.

By David Hopkins

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