The fund managers charged with distributing £80m of Government funding for waste infrastructure have revealed they are still open to bids for the cash.
Foresight Group and Greensphere Captial said they were working fast to invest the money after being appointed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills last week.
The £80m is the first investment announced through the Green Investment Bank and will be used to match private sector investment in small-scale waste infrastructure projects.
Greensphere managing partner Divya Seshamani said the organisation was open to a range of ideas as it looked to invest its £30m allocation.
“People are approaching us all the time,” she said. “It has to be right: it should have planning permission; a thought-through feedstock source; and uptake agreements.”
But she said time was of the essence. “We’re working on it now so by June or July we should see the first [funding allocations] coming through.
“There is more funding [to come from Government]; this is the initial allocation and the amount reflects the very immediate pipeline.”
Foresight, which has been allocated £50m, also said it wanted to get the fund working as quickly as possible, and was open to assessing the viability of projects on top of its existing pipeline.
Partner and head of environmental Andrew Page said: “We are delighted to have been selected by UK Green Investments to invest in UK companies using proven technologies to support the development of the waste sector.”
The Government is investing as UK Green Investments ahead of obtaining EU state aid approval for the GIB, which aims to speed up private sector investment in the green economy.
Michael Topham, finance director of the industrial and commercial division at Biffa, urged the bank to take calculated risks.
“It needs to hit the sweet spot, and invest with people with a track record but who can not necessarily get investment from banks. It must be prepared to support projects that are entrepreneurial enough, and to back innovations,” he said.
But Nathan Goode, head of environment at Grant Thornton, warned that people looking for leading edge investment from UKGI may be disappointed.
“It has to stay on the right side of EU law and make the investment on commercial terms,” he warned.
The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association said the fund was a good first step to giving confidence in the recycling sector at a time when securing finance was challenging.
Chief executive Charlotte Morton said: “We believe the fund needs to be focused on technologies like AD, which realise the greatest environmental benefits. And it also needs to be matched by collection policies that ensure waste is source-segregated so the maximum value can be extracted from it.”
Vilhelm Oberg, head of sustainability at Policy Connect, which oversees the work of the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group, said the investment did not go far enough to support green energy.
“Because the lack of investor confidence stems primarily from a lack of policy stability, it is doubtful whether the GIB can play anything more than a marginal role. Long-term policy certainty, a level playing field and technology neutrality would have a much more profound impact,” he said.
Ian Hetherington, director-general of the British Metals Recycling Association, said the investment should be accompanied by clearer long-term policies, especially relating to investment in technology for extracting residual waste from commercial and industrial waste.
“It would be helpful to have a longer term strategy mapped out,” he said. “The time scales of the current funding are relatively short and this gravitates to more low risk projects. Setting out the future themes would provide a bit of legroom.”