The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has criticised environment minister Andrea Leadsom’s speech at the Conservative Party conference for containing little on her department’s approach to Brexit.
The response came after ministers including Leadsom (pictured above) and the prime minister Theresa May spoke at the Birmingham event about their policy plans.
Much of the talk concerned the Government’s approach to leaving the EU following the referendum decision in June.
CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said May (pictured below) had provided a “degree of certainty” for the waste sector by outlining the Brexit process and that the trigger to begin exit negotiations, Article 50, would start in March.
Until the UK has completed its exit, existing EU law remains in force. These will be converted into British law in the interim, to allow a stable transition until the Government begins amending or repealing those laws.
“This is all helpful in a general context, and confirms that the landscape won’t change for at least the next two to three years,” said Lee.
But he was more critical of Leadsom’s speech, saying the future of the waste and resources sector still “hangs in the balance”.
“Beyond promising both a tailored and ambitious approach to environmental protection in Defra’s 25-year environment plan, Andrea Leadsom’s speech offered up little detail on the department’s approach to Brexit, despite the fact that UK policy in this area is largely framed around and driven by EU legislation.
“Myriad questions remain, including the outlook for the EU circular economy package, which could be on the EU statute book before the UK departs. We must also keep an eye out for more detail on exactly how changes to the existing legislation will be made when the time comes.
“Will it be a truly consultative, and potentially a long and complex process, as May promises or will ministers be given executive powers?”
Lee said the CIWM would continue to lobby all four governments in the UK to frame a “robust and ambitious” waste strategy.
But he said investment in services and infrastructure continued to suffer due to a lack of long-term certainty.
Meanwhile, resources minister Therese Coffey said at a fringe event that the framework for Defra’s 25-year plan would be published in November.
She also suggested that landfill tax has “stopped being a sufficient penalty” to incentivise poorly performing local authorities to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.