SPENDING REVIEW: Waste leaders express fears that cuts will stall progress

The waste industry has reacted with disappointment to the Government's Spending Review today, in which Chancellor George Osborne announced further budget cuts to two key government departments.

DECC will see its budget cut by 8%, while Defra has agreed a 10% reduction – both departments are seen as critical in steering waste policy and strategy.

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management deputy chief executive Chris Murphy said that his organisation had already voiced unease about Defra’s ability to deliver within its current resources.

“Today’s outcome deepens our concern,” he said. “At a time when resource efficiency and security is moving up the agenda, waste policy in England is suffering from a lack of ambition and there is a real risk that we will come to a standstill.”

He pointed to the fact that Defra had a heavy remit with regards to waste policy in the coming years, such as d delivering a national waste prevention plan, guidance to support local authorities in their decision making on waste collections, and engagement with the EU’s review of waste policy and legislation.

“The fact remains that the responsibility for delivering effective policy, legislation and guidance to drive progress on sustainable waste and resource management ultimately rests with government,” he maintained.

Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson expressed concern that the cuts could stall progress on driving greater resource efficiency.

“There is much still to do to reach European best practice levels of recycling and resource efficiency,” he pointed out.

Georgeson highlighted the crucial role of government leadership in ensuring effective regulation of outputs from material recovery facilities to improve recyclate quality, and proper enforcement of waste regulations to drive out rogue operators.

“In a diminishing funding regime for Defra, all of this will be even harder to achieve, despite the valiant efforts of many,” he warned.

Meanwhile Environmental Services Association director of policy, Matthew Farrow, said that Defra ministers would now need to make some difficult choices in allocating the reduced spend.

Maxine Perella

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