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Delays caused by Government, says London Waste Action boss

By Greg Pitcher

The way Government funds local authority recycling projects makes delays implementing them inevitable, the chief executive of London Waste Action said this week.

Colin Roberts (pictured) insisted that by the time councils are sure of funding, it is too late to ensure getting the necessary licences and apparatus on time.

A report made public last week by the Mayor of Londons office highlighted the delays plaguing recycling initiatives.

Compilation of London Recycling Fund Summaries detailed the lessons learnt from implementing the 65 projects funded by the London Recycling Fund between April 2002 and March 2004.

The fund, run by London Waste Action along with Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Association of London Government, handed out £24.9 million on the projects in that two-year period.

The report, published by Enviros Consulting for the Mayor, concluded: Most of the projects requiring the delivery of new vehicles or containers experienced delays in delivery from the manufacturers.

This may be partly due to the significant increase in the number of new recycling schemes put in place across the country between 2002 and 2004. However, these delays should be borne in mind when implanting a new scheme.

Recruitment and contract letting was also found to take longer than anticipated in many cases. Obtaining planning permission and Environment Agency licences also caused delays.

Roberts, also chairman of London Remade, is convinced the hold-ups are due to uncertainty over whether the funding is available to make plans happen.

He said: Competitive funding holds back planning. It is very hard for local authorities to plan because they do not know if they have the funds until a decision has been made.

Demand for vehicles and containers will be peaking now because grants have been agreed and boroughs are placing their orders. But manufacturers have not been able to significantly increase their capacity.

We will have the same hold-ups again because if you are making boxes or bins or trucks, you do not know what the demand will be and you cannot suddenly increase your capacity. There are a limited number of companies making these products, especially the necessary vehicles.

Planning permission will also become an increasing problem, because you cannot apply for a licence until you have a real scheme, and you dont know if you have a real scheme until you get the funding.

There needs to be more certainty in the funding process so local authorities can plan around it. The councils are ready to do it, and the banks are standing ready, but we need certainty.

The London Recycling Fund awarded £190,000 to the London Borough of Harrow in October 2002 to help the authority improve a civic amenity site and divert green waste to a composting facility.

The Enviros report said: The arrangements for the new transport and processing facilities were delayed by regulatory and planning permission difficulties. Transportation from the start of April 2003 was, therefore, provided by a temporary contract.

There were more positive words, however, elsewhere in the report. It said: Common success factors reported for the projects included partnership working and the positive effects of promotional and educational exercises, especially those that involve direct face-to-face contact with householders.



Efficiency

Projects using co-mingled collections and then a materials recycling facility to sort materials reported increased efficiency.

The Mayors office said this week that Enviros report offered vital information for other authorities contemplating recycling schemes.

A spokesman said: The London Recycling Fund summaries offer valuable guidance to boroughs on what works well and problems which can be avoided in future recycling, composting and communication projects.

There are several initiatives led by the Mayor to improve recycling in the capital and London

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