UK faces ‘crippling’ fines unless it invests billions in waste facilities

The UK needs to invest £8bn over the next ten years to finance new waste infrastructure if it is to avoid crippling landfill taxes and EU fines, according to a parliamentary report released today (September 6).

The study Rubbish to resource: Financing new waste infrastructure warns that landfilled waste is “now costing the country” with landfill tax set to rise to £80 a tonne by 2014-15.

With a quarter of household and commercial/industrial waste still projected to end up in landfill, the report says more reprocessing facilities need to be built – and fast.

The study is the result of a seven-month inquiry by the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG). With the UK resource efficiency sector valued between £50-70bn, the document outlines several key investment opportunities.

But it also highlights numerous barriers to such investment, including a reduction in public spending, a fall in bank lending and inherent waste infrastructure project risks.

To address these issues, the report puts forth various recommendations to encourage central and local government, the waste industry and the finance community to work together.

These range from asking government to establish a single, leading committee on the issue of waste, to encouraging stronger links between the private waste sector and real estate investors. In particular, the report highlights the potential role of the Green Investment Bank in providing greater certainty for investors.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Chair of the APSRG’s inquiry, said: “Without confronting and overcoming these significant barriers it is highly unlikely that the necessary infrastructure capacity will be built.

“As a result, in a few years we could be facing a real crisis in Britain’s capacity to deal with its waste stream. Urgent action is therefore required.”

Maxine Perella

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