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Finance could be greater barrier to waste facilities than planning

Financing waste infrastructure could be more problematic than acquiring planning permission for facilities, a study by Tolvik Consulting has found.

The Residual waste in the UK report considered the future availability of residual local authority collected waste, commercial and industrial waste and the projected capacity of residual waste treatment facilities (RWTF), including incinerators, gasification and mechanical biological treatment, but did not consider so called “dirty MRFs”.

The report found that between 2010 and 2011, an additional 1.9 million tonnes (mt) of RWTF capacity achieved planning consent while only 0.6mt of RWTF capacity has moved from planning consent to construction in the same period.

Tolvik director Adrian Judge told MRW: “We see a lot of facilities that aren’t conventional facilities, such as gasification, getting permission relatively quickly and easily. So we think that the debate about planning is one thing, but we’ve got to move forward and say we’ve got 19.4mt of total consented capacity, we’ve only got less than half of it built or being built, so that suggests the next issue is one of raising the finance and getting the plants built.”

Judge explained that for project developers with merchant facilities, they have to “tuck in” around local authority contracts. He said: “What we potentially see is a patchwork of local authority contracts. There’s a lot of commercial waste with no home, but it’s difficult to find geographies where there’s enough of it in an area to make a large enough merchant facility financially viable and attractive.”

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