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Direct benefits increase public acceptance of waste facilities, Sita report finds

Community support for the construction of a waste facility significantly increases when a direct benefit is offered to householders, Sita has found in a report that is the first of its kind.

The document, Public Attitudes to Community Buy-In for Waste and Resource Infrastructure, revealed that 45% of residents surveyed would be happy for a new facility to be built if the local community got something in return. Results showed that if a direct benefit was offered to householders, such as a discount on their energy bills, 83% of those surveyed would agree to the build.

However, 21% of people still did not want a waste facility in their area whether they received a benefit personally or as part of the community.

Research was undertaken by Ray Georgeson Resources and market research specialists GfK NOP on Sita’s behalf to find out how incentives can help waste management companies achieve approval on planning applications quicker and without resistance from the local community.

Ray Georgeson, director of Ray Georgeson Resources said: “The coalition Government has spent a lot of its short tenure advocating that incentivisation is the best way to encourage more positive attitudes towards recycling and waste.

“Over the next few years the UK will need to develop numerous new recycling and waste management facilities to provide a sustainable treatment route for the waste that currently goes to landfill. So it makes sense to understand exactly how communities feel about hosting these and if by providing incentives we can make these projects more acceptable.”

Sita chief executive David Palmer-Jones told MRW that for a waste company, economies of scale and the right location have to be taken into account: “The difficulty is that if the facility is too big, there are problems and if it’s too small there are problems. If the residents say they want community-scale facilities then they multiply the number of facilities that are needed in the UK to handle waste, they may have 12 neighbouring facilities instead of one big one. There is a question whether it is more palatable to find the right location than building a facility to economies of scale.”

Recommendations from the report conclude that: more research needs to be undertaken to find out more detail about what level of community incentives are needed; local authorities should incorporate thinking around community incentives early on in their development plans and; if utility discounts are used, they should be attached to the property and not the owner.

The Government’s Waste Review, published last week, addressed this issue of community incentives as a way of overcoming barriers to waste management facilities receiving planning permission.

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