BIS minister Michael Fallon tasked with championing 'waste-led bioeconomy'
Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Business and Energy, is to take the lead on developing a high value waste-based bioeconomy under new plans announced by the Government.
The move will see the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) work more closely together to ensure greater coherency and alignment of activities related to resource use and management.
The Government has revealed it will draw up a long-term plan for supporting a bioeconomy by early 2015, and the BIS Minister of State for Business and Energy - a post currently held by Fallon - will effectively be responsible for ensuring its delivery.
Defra's director for resource & waste Dr Colin Church confirmed Fallon's involvement to edie this morning, following the release of a government paper disclosing some of the details. He added that Minister Dan Rogerson would continue to lead on waste policy within Defra.
Church tweeted that Defra "looks forward to working closely with [BIS] as it leads development of the long term plan for the bioeconomy, given our interests in waste/resources, crops, biomass, etc".
The government paper was released this week as part of an official response to recommendations set out by the House of Lords Science & Technology Committee report Waste or Resource? Stimulating a bioeconomy released last March.
One of the recommendations was for a 'waste champion' to be appointed within BIS to take the lead on stimulating a waste-based bioeconomy and coordinate activities across government departments.
In its response, the Government acknowledged that "progress in stimulating the bioeconomy will be enhanced if there is a clear ministerial champion identified".
The paper read: "[BIS] will take this championing role led by the Minister of State for Business and Energy. A cross-government steering group will be established with industry and key stakeholders to coordinate the development and stimulation of a bioeconomy, for which waste will form a potentially important feedstock.
"Through this steering group, the Government will ensure the engagement and participation of other government departments who own and manage a range of levers relevant to this opportunity, such as Defra who lead on resource and waste management."
In developing its bioeconomy, the Government said it would seek to work with industry and independent institutions to "build a clearer, shared holistic understanding of the whole system for waste and other feedstocks" and that it would facilitate engagement with businesses to consider how best to provide policy stability and align market incentives.
However calls by the House of Lords Committee for further policy guidance to help standardise local authority waste collections are likely to be rejected. In its response, the Government said that the way that domestic waste is collected "is a local matter for local councils and they will wish to listen to their residents".
It added: "The Government recognises the wide variation of collection processes across local authority boundaries today makes this standardisation problematic. The Government is not in favour of issuing new guidance unless there is a clear and immediate issue that needs to be tackled."