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Public support for recycling investment revealed

The general public has prioritised investment in recycling and waste processing plants as part of the national infrastructure plan, according to independent research.

Some 32% of respondents to a survey of 2,000 adults chose recycling as one of their top three priorities for national infrastructure investment, with only renewable energy and housing placed above it.

The Independent survey of attitudes to infrastructure in Great Britain 2015 report, published by Copper Consultancy in partnership with Peter Brett Associates (PBA), also found 22% said current waste and recycling infrastructure, including MRFs and energy-from-waste plants, is ‘not good enough’.

Fourteen per cent said waste and recycling infrastucture was ‘very good’ and 53% said ‘fairly good’, with 11% not stating an opinion.

While 43% of respondents prioritised renewable energy investment, the highest rating, only 19% picked nuclear power.This would seem to contrast with the Government’s priorities outlined in energy secretary Amber Rudd’s recent policy statement.

But PBA chair Keith Mitchell said the results were positive because they showed that people were concerned about the energy shortfall generally.

“Renewable energy is not necessarily the answer,” he said.

The vast majority of respondents, 87%, supported investment in infrastructure generally, but there was no mention in the survey of whether funding would be from the public or private sector.

Respondents said community engagement, consultation and leadership from politicians and technical experts would increase confidence in the infrastructure sector.

Chancellor George Osborne appointed former Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis to head a National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) in October.

Osborne said the Government will increase infrastructure spending by up to £5bn during the course of the Parliament, with cash from the sale of land, buildings and other state assets recycled to fund new projects.

Adonis, who was unable to attend the report’s launch at the Institution of Civil Engineers, said: “This survey shows that the public want proper investment and planning behind world class developments. But while the support is there for real improvement, people rightly demand proper engagement and genuine consultation.”

A consultation addressing the NIC’s responsibilities is expected to open in the next few weeks.

Chinook Sciences has won the Institution of Engineering and Technology Innovation Award for its energy-from-waste plant in Oldbury in the West Midlands, pictured above. 

The IET Innovation Awards are judged by panels of leading international experts. More than 300 entries were received from 28 countries across the world. The judging panel said of the award: “Chinook’s technology has made a significant advancement in the area of metal recovery and energy production. This has had an exceptional impact on the environment, renewable energy and society in both a commercial and sustainable way. Chinook technology recovers more energy than any existing technologies.” 

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