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Will Quango cuts really be felt in the waste sector?

The “bonfire of the Quangos” may not really be felt in the waste sector, according to some in the industry.

On 14 October the government published a full list of the 177 Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Organisations (Quangos) to be abolished, including The Advisory Committee on Packaging and the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

However, both bodies are to be replaced with alternatives, prompting some in the industry to question whether these changes will have an impact.

The IPC which is responsible for overseeing the planning process for many large infrastructure projects, including waste facilities, is to be replaced with a new Major Infrastructure Planning Unit. Despite this change the intention is that any current, and indeed new, projects will be unaffected.

A spokesman from the IPC told MRW: “It is very early days at the moment, and no changes will be made until the legislation [the 2008 Planning Act] is changed, so it is unlikely we will see any major differences until at least 2012.

“There is work which is being undertaken at the moment to integrate the Planning Inspectorate with the IPC but we are trying to do that in such a way that current applications will not be affected.”

While it is far too early to comment on what format the new Major Infrastructure Planning Unit will take the IPC wishes reassure any applicants that it is very much business as usual.

The spokesman added: “The process remains exactly the same at the moment and the timescales will not change. We are very much open to new applications and we wish for any transition to be as smooth as possible.”

Elsewhere, the news that The Advisory Committee on Packaging is to be abolished and replaced with a committee of experts on packaging has prompted some to question whether there will be any difference at all.

Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN) director Jane Bickerstaffe told MRW: “I am not really sure if there is really any difference between an advisory committee and a committee of experts to be honest. I don’t at this stage, but I presume it will still be the same people involved so maybe it is just a change of name.”

Bickerstaffe believes the fact that the committee is being replaced with an alternative shows that Defra thinks it serves an important function.

She continued: “I suppose the remit will be exactly the same as it was and I am sure they will still be seeing through the same programme of work as before. If it is simply a change of name, and I haven’t seen anything to suggest it is anything other than that, then it seems to me to be a complete non-issue.”

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