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Industry urges Government to clarify green issues in coalition manifesto

Industries are calling for more clarity about how the new Government will implement its energy and environmental policies set out in the coalition manifesto on 20 May.

Both the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) were supportive of the proposals to increase the target for energy from renewable sources, with ADBA saying that the AD industry could not have hoped for a better outcome.

REA head of external affairs Leonie Greene told MRW: “The proposal to increase overall renewable energy ambition shows strong political commitment.

“However, we are concerned about the details of the renewable obligation and FITs proposal, which could have a huge implication on facilities. All projects in the pipeline have been based on the renewable obligation system. So we want an early statement from the Government to say that all these projects will be grandfathered.”

Greene said there was also concern for the renewable heat incentive as more technologies other than AD needed to be identified, with possibly more funding made available as the industry is “rapidly running out of money”. 

Anaerobic Digestion

Industry commentator Peter Jones believes the coalition has a much better grasp of what needs to be done than the previous administration, but he wants to see some more robust discussions around how it will be implemented.

He said: “It is all very well saying that we need to invest in AD, but you have got to remember that sometimes, this isn’t necessarily the most appropriate solution. It is not a silver bullet and there is never going to be a one size fits all approach.

 “The market should drive the choice of technology and the technology should drive the choice of fuel. The technology is not the ends in itself, it is a means to an end and this should be kept in mind when implementing this policy.”

The availability of suitable feedstock to fuel new AD technologies also needs to be addressed, according to some experts.

ADBA chair Lord Redesdale said: “If we are to increase AD then more local authorities will need to introduce food waste collection at the kerbside, but this needs to be implemented in such a way that what is collected is of good enough quality to be used in AD.”

Some industry professionals also believe the coalition should issue further clarification on where they stand on other forms of energy from waste (EfW) technology, most notably incineration.

UK Without Incineration Network national co-ordinator Shlomo Dowen said: “We welcome AD as the superior form of EfW, but we need to know whether the Government is proposing to use this technology to replace EfW generated through incineration.”

Planning

According to Norton Rose partner and head of planning Nigel Hewitson the new Government’s statement that they are ‘abolishing‘ the Infrastructure Planning Commission should be treated with caution. He said: “I would say they are abolishing the IPC in inverted commas, as it will basically stay as it is. Instead, I understand that it will be moved to the planning inspectorate where it will be a specialist department dealing with nationally significant projects.”

Changes to make it a more democratic body will mean it will have to make decisions according to national policy statements that will have to be approved by both houses of Parliament, which wasn’t the case before. And all decisions will have be ratified by the Secretary of State, instead of just those that follow national policy statements.

Hewiston added: “The only difference in time it would take for an application to go through would be the interim between the IPC making a recommendation and the Secretary of State endorsing it. I have known planning applications to lie on a minister’s desk for two years because it was a politically difficult issue. I’m not saying every application will take two years but if it is politically difficult, there may be delays.”

Green Investment Bank

Catalyst Corporate Finance partner Mark Wilson welcomed the proposal to introduce a Green Investment Bank. He said: “It will be a welcome step for businesses in certain areas where there has been market failure and investment from the private sector has not been forthcoming.”

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