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Rigorous scrutiny of waste legislation will be vital

Corin Williams

Resources minister Therese Coffey is surely becoming more and more in demand as we get closer to the launch of the resources and waste strategy, but the Labour opposition has been suspiciously quiet.

Coffey attended a British Plastics Federation parliamentary event and the next day gave evidence at an Environmental Audit Committee inquiry - but she made no appearance at RWM in Birmingham, which was held in the same week.

A number of industry figures attended the EAC hearing, including 360 Environmental’s Phil Conran and Larac’s Lee Marshall, and then went straight on to RWM. Had she turned up, she would have discovered thousands of people eager to find out anything they can about the strategy. This is unsurprising as people’s livelihoods depend on it.

In fact, it was EAC chair Mary Creagh who delivered the juicy tidbits to RWM. But although Creagh represents an influential committee, it does not hold the power that front-bench MPs do.

It is often said that the EAC seems to be providing the scrutiny of the Government’s emerging policies on waste and recycling that is lacking from Her Majesty’s official opposition.

When asked by MRW on her opinion of Labour shadow resources minster David Drew’s action so far, she said: ”I genuinely don’t know what David is doing. I have sat with him occasionally, but I don’t know about the policy work that’s going on.”

We discovered a few weeks back that Drew is currently drawing up a policy that will not favour incineration, and has not approached our sector for advice or information.

As a former shadow environment minister herself, Creagh gave a brave attempt to back her Labour colleagues, but it must be frustrating for her that those colleagues are not necessarily showing the same attention to detail that she is.

We are entering the party conference season, and unlike last year waste management is a hot topic at fringe events. Keep Britain Tidy is putting on an event at the Labour conference titled ”choosing between a world-leading waste and recycling system or business as usual”.

Will Drew and his colleagues will put in appearance and start meeting with the industry he wants to set policies for?

At some point Labour front-benchers will need to cross-examine Coffey and environment secretary Michael Gove in the House of Commons on the resources and waste strategy - let’s hope they will have the correct facts and figures to be able to do so effectively.



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