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Lords grill Ruddock over delivery body funding

Environment Minister Joan Ruddock has been quizzed by a House of Lords Select committee about why funding taps for some delivery bodies have been turned off.

The questions arose as Ruddock gave evidence to the Science and Technology Committee inquiry into waste reduction.

Ruddock outlined the 2008/09 budgets for Envirowise, the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP), the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), and the Market Transformation Programme, which totalled more than £60 million. But she added it was less than in past years.

She said there were two reasons for the cuts. Previously big investments had been made in pioneering work, which had produced good results. However, she said: Some programmes had reached the end of their natural life and would not require the same level of funding or funding at all.

[This natural change] is why budgets are considerably lower than in previous years.

However, committee chairman Lord ONeill asked if WRAPs surprise at large funding cuts were the reason the body had still not presented a business plan six weeks into the new financial year. He told Ruddock: This doesnt seem to suggest the rationale that you offer that these schemes have been so successful and are developed so they dont need as much money.

Baroness Sharp added: I think 90% of waste in this country derives from industry rather than
from domestic waste and the amount spent on WRAP, NISP etc is minute compared to that spent on the Carbon Trust and the savings from the amount spent are proportionately substantial.

These programmes have been built up over time and one of the problems you face is that  a great deal of that 90% comes from small and medium businesses and its clear that such businesses need a great deal of help.

The report from the Business Resource Efficiency & Waste Programme centre for local authorities indicated that 49% of businesses contact their local authority about environmental issues. Given that youve got that programme up and running and it was beginning to yield substantial returns why turn off the tap?

Ruddock responded: We are not turning off the tap - substantial funding is still available to these organisations.


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