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Viridor says the UK needs to move beyond the debate about the scale of the UK’s residual waste treatment capacity gap and start a serious discussion about the best way to fund the vital recycling and recovery infrastructure required to meet the demand of the UK economy.
This is the view of Viridor’s Strategy and Business Development Director Chris Jonas who pointed out that the company had consistently emphasised the significant gap between current capacity and the demand for energy recovery facilities, to deal with the UK’s non-recyclable waste streams.
Jonas said Viridor’s detailed recent analysis had predicted a 7.5m tonnes shortfall of UK residual waste capacity by 2030, highlighting the need for a firm focus on post-Brexit UK infrastructure investment in line with the Government’s industrial and energy strategies.
The company has also contributed to the Environmental Services Association’s analysis on the issue – which will show broad consensus about the vital need for additional waste treatment infrastructure to support the UK’s economy as the number of available landfills continues to rapidly reduce.
Jonas said: “Our view concerning the shortfall in residual waste treatment infrastructure, and the continuing need for on-going investment in recycling technologies, has remained unchanged over the past three years. Our sector, its trade associations and the Government understand the challenge. We support the useful forthcoming review and report of the National Infrastructure Commission to underline this need.
“It is, therefore, time to move beyond this and to focus on to the next chapter in this debate that is: how will this future essential infrastructure be funded? How can our sector best establish the business case for the next wave of investment to support a strong UK economy and the UK’s Industrial Strategy and it’s energy security ambitions?
And Viridor’s parent company, Pennon, supports this approach with the group’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Investor Relations, Sarah Heald, saying that infrastructure investment means striking a crucial balance – affordability versus long-term resilience.
She said: “We must deliver infrastructure fit for the future, but at a price we can afford now. It requires the public sector, private sector and local communities to work collaboratively. Together we must ensure our infrastructure is fit for purpose for the decades ahead and the challenges to come.”
Jonas adds: “Government has a clear opportunity to set out clear frameworks for increased resource efficiency in the proposed Waste and Resources Strategy, within the Industrial Strategy and in the Clean Growth Plan. Businesses and public authorities must then work with our sector to procure access to services which drive materials further up the waste hierarchy. We must agree best-value contracted arrangements of a sufficient duration and ambition, enabling the right balance between recycling and recovery and ensuring the viability of investment in new infrastructure for resource efficiency.
“It’s clear that funding options are no longer rooted in subsidies and PFI-style contracts. The opportunities have to be developed to identify and agree broad, collaborative solutions on which to deliver a new wave of infrastructure to drive improved resource efficiency across the UK. This will deliver jobs and clear economic and environmental benefits in a confident post-Brexit Britain. We now need to work hard across sectors to establish the models that will warrant this investment.”