The impact of spending cuts on local authorities has contributed to a fall in planning applications for new waste management sites, according to a commercial law firm.
EMW, which specialises in such contracts, says the latest figures show applications in 2015-16 fell 20% on the year before, from 237 to 189. The highest level in in the past five years was 261 in 2013-14.
The figures include applications for MRFs, energy recovery, composting and anaerobic digestion facilities.
During the past five years, councils have faced funding cuts of 40% from central Government.
EMW says that uncertainty ahead of the EU referendum may have also been a factor behind the fall, with applications on hold pending the outcome.
James Geary, principal at EMW, said the UK waste management sector was in limbo.
“Continued investment in expanding and upgrading our waste management capacity to cope with growing demand and to meet increasingly stringent environmental protection targets is vital. These figures cast doubt on whether enough is being done.
“As the population continues to grow, ensuring a sustainable waste management sector is going to become more pressing – but also potentially more controversial – than ever.
“Building more new sites may not be popular with residents, but investing in cleaner, greener technology may help to allay some of those concerns.”