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Industry responds to Conservative energy plans

Key energy from waste players have called for clarity on sustainable power policy from Tory ministers or risk investment.

Waste giants Veolia and Biffa joined dozens of business and lobby groups earlier this week to sign a letter to chancellor George Osborne calling for certainty for renewables investors.

The letter, organised by the Aldersgate sustainable business group, came as ministers were meeting at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham.

The groups called on Osborne to implement a carbon emissions target for power generation by 2030 or risk damaging the economy. It warned greater clarity was required to unlock £110bn investment in energy infrastructure.

The letter, backed by firms such as BT and EDF, said Government’s commitment to low carbon transition was “being undermined by recent statements calling for unabated gas in the power sector beyond 2030 and the absence of a specific carbon intensity target”.

Energy secretary Greg Barker told the Conservative Party Conference on Tuesday the Government was cutting subsidies for clean energy but remained committed to expanding the sector. He said: “Green growth isn’t just a catch phrase for us; it is at the heart of our vision of a prosperous, sustainable economy.”

Lack of clarity on renewables

Robert Hunt, executive director of Veolia Environmental Services told MRW it was vital there was a “stable and comprehensive regulatory framework” for renewable energy.

He said: “This year alone we have invested £260 million in new resource management. To keep this momentum Government must provide investors with longer-term confidence in the market to ensure energy security.”

Peter Dilnot, chief executive of waste firm Shanks, said a clear stance on renewables was essential to meet emission targets, ensure energy security and attract investment. He urged Government to reclassify solid recovered fuel so it can be used a substitute to coal. Renewable Energy Association chief executive Gaynor Hartnell agreed a lack of clarity from Government risked leaving Britain “stuck at the back of the pack”.

The calls came as ministers pushed ahead with the wide-ranging Energy Market Reform (EMR), which would change the system of Government support for power producers.

Matthew Farrow, policy director at the Environmental Services Association said waste firms were particularly concerned about uncertainty over EMR. He accused ministers of a lack of joined-up Government: “DECC lead on policies such as Contract for Difference but don’t understand EfW; Defra understand EfW but aren’t a key player in the electricity market reform agenda.” The result, he said, was uncertainty for investors.

Better to support AD than shale gas

In his first speech as environment secretary, also on Tuesday, Owen Paterson made little mention of waste. While backing anaerobic digestion (AD) to divert waste from landfill, he warned Government had to ensure infrastructure was built in the right places.

The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) said ministers should give more focused support to AD after Osborne announced a consultation on tax breaks for shale gas. Chief executive Charlotte Morton said AD could “provide energy security at a lower cost with far lower carbon emissions” than shale.

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