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Turndown in new technology

By John McKenna

Local authorities wanting to invest in new technologies will not gain funding through private finance initiatives (PFI), as banks are unwilling to take the risk.

At the MRW-organised Financing in the Waste Management and Recycling Sector conference, delegates were told to forget about submitting tenders that relied on unproven methods and machinery.

Banks are unwilling to risk substantial sums of money on technology with no track record, according to Andrew Hartley, head of infrastructure at the Bank of Irelands Global Project Finance unit. Those who want to be experimental need to find money elsewhere, he said.

Hartley described the waste sector as one with plenty of bad news, citing the problems of planning and slippage of Government targets as investment turn-offs. Banks are not charities, he said.

But Waste Implementation Programme (WIP) director John Burns said that PFI was vital to meeting EU waste obligations and new technologies were integral to WIP.

However, Hartley explained that his bank had invested in the fluidised bed incinerator at Allington, Kent the first of its kind in the UK. The technology had been operating successfully at an incinerator in Madrid for three years and it was this kind of pedigree that banks were willing to invest in, he said.

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