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Investment in waste: Paul Levett, Waste Transition

Any investment decision involves assessing if risks are acceptable and, if so, what level of return on investment is appropriate to the risk.

Some risks can be addressed through due diligence, expert advice, reference plants, contractual protection or hedging. However, in the waste sector there are three residual risks which can be difficult or impossible to assess and/or control:

  • Regulation - it’s difficult to make a long term investment when EU and UK policy can change unpredictably with the life of the plant eg changes to green energy subsidies or the possible introduction of an incineration tax .
  • Enforcement - investment in clean compliant technology can be undermined or driven out of business by competition from illegal operators who can undercut the market eg illegal exports of contaminated materials, fraudulent PERN claims, sham RDF exports of WEEE and other waste to manual sites with little or no health, safety or environmental controls etc
  • Local politics - good site selection and sound legal basis cannot protect from lengthy, costly planning delays which put funding in jeopardy.

We need long-term policies with cross party support and increased funding for the EA for enforcement resources to match the increased levels of regulation and waste crime.

The alternative is to remain unattractive to investors and lose opportunities for green jobs and energy to other countries.

Paul Levett, director, Waste Transition

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