Alongside planning, funding is one of the major challenges to the development of new waste infrastructure.
Ministers have recognised this, and offered the sector a potential boost by naming waste as a priority sector for loans from the Green Investment Bank (GIB). But news this week that the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWaRB) has so far struggled to distribute loans gives an indication of the challenges that could lie ahead for the GIB.
LWaRB was set up in 2008 with a remit to distribute funding to boost recycling in the capital. But of £20m worth of loans promised to projects, only £5.15m has actually been haanded over. Projects must reach “certain milestones” before the loans can be distributed, and it is here that the delays have crept in.
This suggests an issue either with the funding criteria or with borrowers failing to achieve milestones in a timely fashion. This is significant not only because progress has clearly not been slower than many would like, but also because the LWaRB’s purpose is partly to alleviate difficulties faced in securing loans from mainstream funders - often because of funding criteria.
Like LWaRB, the GIB will be offering loans, not grants, and will have a strong focus on financially sound investment and ensuring that loans can ultimately be recouped.
The GIB should be asking what lessons can be learned from the LWaRB to ensure that loans can be made more swiftly for the UK’s vital infrastructure investment.