Waste industry groups have delivered a mixed verdict on new environment secretary Owen Paterson, who appears more likely to prioritise economic growth over building the Government’s green credentials.
The former Northern Ireland secretary, left, who replaced Caroline Spelman as part of the prime minister’s reshuffle, was a shadow agriculture minister from 2005-06, but has shown little interest in waste.
Industry lobby groups the Environmental Services Association (ESA) and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management both hoped to sell the waste sector to Paterson by tapping into his stated desire to drive economic growth.
ESA director of policy Matthew Farrow said: “With the need to get the economy moving, waste and resources should be at the heart of Defra’s thinking.”
He called on Paterson to reform procurement so that it drove demand for recycled content in products; work with the Treasury to develop tax policy options beyond landfill tax to drive waste up the hierarchy; and get the construction of waste heat networks on to the housing and infrastructure agenda.
CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said: “The waste and resource management industry is at the heart of green growth, not only through its role in helping UK plc to be more resource- efficient but also as one of the few sectors that is bucking the trend in terms of positive growth and jobs.”
Meanwhile, renewable energy chiefs have raised concerns after it emerged that Paterson told a Cabinet meeting in June he wanted to scrap energy subsidies.
The ConservativeHome blog reported that he outlined a plan which included slashing red tape, ending all energy subsidies and fast-tracking the exploitation of shale gas.
The Renewable Energy Association urged him “to embrace the waste-to-energy agenda” while a senior industry figure warned “scrapping renewable subsidies would kill [smaller projects]”.