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Osborne urged to include waste and renewables in infrastructure plans

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has called on the chancellor to boost the UK’s waste and recycling capacity following the publication of the 2011 Infrastructure Plan.

The plan, aligned to George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, outlines £5bn of private and public spending on infrastructure projects over the next three years. Although it details current Government waste initiatives, no new commitments have been made to bolster existing or future waste projects.

Matthew Farrow, ESA director of policy, said: “ESA has previously estimated that £7.5bn of capital investment in waste infrastructure is required to meet EU landfill diversion targets. This new infrastructure would generate 25,000 permanent new jobs and could add a fresh £2bn to the UK’s GDP. It is time that the Government unlocked this potential.”

Farrow welcomed the plan’s “recognition of the importance of new waste treatment” but added: “Recent announcements that Waste Infrastructure Credits would be withheld from Norfolk’s proposed residual waste plant only serve to undermine confidence in waste infrastructure investment and show that not all of the chancellor’s Cabinet colleagues are signed up to the pro-growth message.”

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said there were “minimal renewables” in Osborne’s plan.

She added: “It makes strategic sense to invest in renewables, to help pull the UK out of the doldrums, yet the Autumn Statement lacks any specific new measures.

“There is certainly no evidence of the ‘ruthless’ focus on renewable energy called for by Nick Clegg when he spoke at the London School of Economics earlier this year. Quite the opposite - the policy uncertainty across almost every aspect of renewables is draining investor confidence.”

The Resource Association, a new group for the reprocessing and recycling industries, said it was a missed opportunity for the ‘green’ economy.

Chief executive Ray Georgeson welcomed the National Infrastructure Plan, a taskforce to target scrap metal thieves, support for energy-intensive manufacturing (especially in the papermaking sector) and the creation of a new Cabinet committee on infrastructure.

But he said: “While we wait with impatience for the launch of the Green Investment Bank and real progress following the Government’s Waste Review, the Autumn Statement represents another missed opportunity to give the UK green economy the signals and the boost it needs to ensure our industry can work to its strengths in creating jobs and training opportunities, reducing carbon emissions and increasing resource efficiency in the UK economy.”

Chris Dow, managing director of Closed Loop Recycling, said the government needed to work with medium-sized businesses to “create a level playing field” for emerging industries.

He said: “Is there enough in the Autumn Statement to encourage growth from successful businesses? I am not convinced at the moment.

“Support from Government to emerging industries of the future, such as ours, will assist in boosting green job creation opportunities.

“George Osborne is talking about an active enterprise policy for business. We hope the Treasury understands that environmental policy is not a cost but an opportunity to grow green jobs and therefore the growth of the economy.”

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