Stewart Davies, chief executive of Augean and chair of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), has said the organisation is “talking urgently” with Defra over the lack of investment in alternatives to landfill.
Speaking at the ’Resourcing the Future’ conference in London on 28 June, Davies (pictured) said the treatment capacity gap was the “biggest near-term issue facing our sector” as landfill sites are wound up.
He said: “Four-fifths of the landfill capacity in the UK is expected to close in the period 2015-30.
“But the investment climate hasn’t been right, including the planning environment, so we are not getting the treatment capacity in place that is needed to balance the material flows.
“We are talking very urgently with Defra and the Environment Agency about how the environment for those investments can be improved.”
He warned that Scotland had four years to go until the implementation of a landfill ban, but that less than half of the necessary treatment capacity was currently in place.
He said that uncertainties around how Brexit would affect material flows was also a potential source of crisis.
“These are very immediate pressures,” he added.
An ESA spokesperson told MRW that discussions were ongoing between the policy team and Defra.
Davies added that the ESA was talking to Ofgem over its decision to cut subsidies to small-scale power generators, including anaerobic digestion and landfill gas.
He said that ignoring ’grandfather rights’ at developments would have an adverse impact on investment in the sector.
“Currently, we are engaged in that debate with Ofgem about the embedded benefits which could cost our sector £80m annually from 2020,” he said.
“That’s an example of where the sector has made an investment, and then retrospectively Government is interfering with that certainty on the basis which the investment was made.”
The letter urged Gove to give industry “the confidence to invest in the infrastructure urgently needed to maximise the recovery of valuable materials, energy and nutrients from waste”.