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MP slams Government wood waste decision

An MP has called Defra’s decision last week not to ban wood from landfill “the worst of all decisions”.

Alan Whitehead

Alan Whitehead MP (Lab), a co-chair of the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resources Group, said the Government decision went against the evidence of two consultations that “overwhelmingly” showed restrictions to be a good idea.

He said ministers had not properly explained why they had rejected a ban.

Defra’s announcement, on 15 February, said current wood to landfill levels were low and likely to continue falling without the need for intervention. It also warned a ban could hurt small businesses.

Industry responses to the consultation, opened in July, raised concerns over enforcement and infrastructure requirements.

The Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) said there was “no real surprise” Defra had concluded now was not the right time for restrictions.

WRA, while previously in favour of a ban, lobbied against restrictions, saying the landfill tax escalator and biomass expansion would divert material.   

But WRA’s argument was “not sound”, Whitehead said. In the absence of any clear policy direction, strategy or incentives, developments to deal with mixed wood waste had foundered. Now, he added, Defra’s policy contradicted plans to expand biomass.

He said: “I think having the prospect – and I agree, that should be a staged prospect – of having to find an alternative market for those particular types of wood would in itself probably speed through quite a few projects that could deal with it in a way that there isn’t at the moment.”

“Under these circumstances, there never is a right time for the market,” he added. “So I think we just need to get on with it.”

Whitehead has previously written in favour of banning wood from landfill for MRW.


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