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'I wouldn't want a waste facility near my home' says Veolia director

A boss at Veolia has said he would not want to live near one of his firm’s waste incinerators.

Speaking at an industry policy event, the waste giant’s executive director for external affairs, Robert Hunt, said planning for waste facilities was a big issue because nobody wanted one built near them.

“I don’t think I’d want a waste facility near my home, I have to say”, Hunt added.

He said that while “in a democracy everybody’s got to have their say” on planning issues, the time taken to get planning permission made it difficult to attract foreign investment. The infrastructure planning system needed to be faster and more efficient, he added.

Chief operating officer at the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWaRB), Wayne Hubbard, disagreed with Hunt. Hubbard, also speaking at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum event, said the planning system was delivering waste infrastructure.  The regime, he argued, distinguishes between large thermal treatment plants and smaller waste facilities which are less problematic.

“I don’t buy this received wisdom that planning is an issue”, he said, “but planning is definitely an issue for certain types of infrastructure”.

Hubbard said there was a need to focus more on smaller merchant facilities with more flexibility to respond to changes in market requirements.

“It’s okay to have the big waste infrastructure as long as it’s backed up by a load of other stuff that will come from entrepreneurial, smaller waste management companies”, he said.

Campaigner Shlomo Dowen of UK Without Incineration Network slammed Hunt’s comments on planning. He said the firm had a “blind spot” in respecting local residents and Hunt should “stop blaming the people for shortcomings in Veolia’s business model”.

 “Growing rejection of incineration is about much more than the planning system”, added Dowen.

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