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Industry evidence provides the key

This week’s news puts policy-led market intervention in the spotlight.

After a concerted campaign by the AD sector, government has listened and has this week scrapped its plans to stop Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) subsidies for AD projects under 5MW (more at www.mrw.co.uk/8636651.article). The u-turn provides welcome continuity and security for this growing sector, demonstrating the impact that well-placed government support can offer – and shows that government will listen to reasoned argument.

Meanwhile, government plans to limit wood going to landfill have been met by resistance from the Wood Recyclers Association and major wood recyclers, who fear that such measures could lead to a supply glut and cause prices to fall.

Their fears are legitimate but the message that resistance sends out is a difficult one and raises serious questions about future of market. For a landfill ban to succeed the market needs space to mature – something that the government could support via suitable intervention.

At present there is insufficient market for some types of wood waste. Biomass would provide part of the answer – if government adapted ROC bandings to support the use of waste wood over virgin timber and if measures were taken to encourage the growth of biomass, such as the planned development of Battleship Wharf in the Port of Blyth (www.mrw.co.uk/8629133.article).

If waste and recycling is to fulfil its potential to drive economic growth government must make the right market interventions wisely at the right time, based on informed evidence from the industry. It must continue to listen.

Emma Maier, editor, MRW

Follow Emma Maier on Twitter: @emmamaier

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