The coalition government’s first major reshuffle brought with it a change of environment secretary and significant ramifications for the waste sector.
Caroline Spelman’s focus was farming through and through and she showed little interest in waste. As such, her departure is unlikely to be celebrated or mourned by many in the industry. Her replacement Owen Paterson might provoke a stronger reaction. Like Spelman his core interest is farming and he shows little inclination towards waste, which is a disappointment.
His green credentials have been under the spotlight – reportedly a climate-change sceptic, he has not gone down well with environmental groups. He has also called for an end to all energy subsidies – a clear concern for the energy from waste sector, which has already mounted a vigorous campaign to win over Paterson and new energy minister John Hayes.
Paterson does have a strong stated interest in economic growth and it is this rather than his green credentials that got him the job. In this there is a clear opportunity for the waste industry. Waste management, recycling and resource management has the potential to make a significant contribution to economic growth and the task ahead is convince the new environment secretary of this.
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