Now we know from the Chancellor that Defra will have to come up with cuts of 10% in the financial year 2015/6. Reduced funding for the climate change (8%), business (6%) and communities (10%) departments could well impact the waste industry.
But, at this stage, we do not know the full details: it’s our understanding that Defra, for example, will take a couple of days for specific proposals. But there is already the worry that, with spending on flood defences protected and farming payments fixed, other areas will be at greater risk.
Representatives of a wide cross-section of our industry have already united in concern that efforts to tackle waste crime will be a casualty. The Environmental Services Association, the Resource Association, the Renewable Energy Association and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management urged Lord De Mauley to maintain Environment Agency momentum on this important issue.
So will the axe fall on WRAP, recently the subject of a rapid Defra consultation? Will there be salami slicing or wholesale change? One of the questions asked of contributors to the consultation was whether they would be willing to pay towards services currently provided by WRAP for free. Some within the organisation think a switch to a more entrepreneurial role is inevitable and would welcome an opportunity to “grow the business”.
There’s also the potential for loss of initiative on recycling and reuse if WRAP support for textile, carpet and plastic manufacturers, for example, is restricted.
The Dairy Roadmap is seen as a global leader in co-operation over environmental sustainability but it got off the ground running in 2008 because Wrap was able to provide that initial shove. It’s a model that can be replicated after the cuts but only if there is a way as well as the will.