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Heading out of 2017 with some hope

Robin Latchem

This time last year, the outlook for 2017 in the waste sector was far from upbeat. The referendum vote to take Britain out of the EU caused great uncertainty. Now the mood is markedly different.

Ministers have been increasingly encouraging and their apparent default aversion to regulation has shifted. This is partly down to the personnel.

While not being everyone’s favourite politician, Michael Gove has approached the environment secretary’s role with gusto. His appointment means that the raft of policy pronouncements for 2018 are likely to be subjected to greater rigour and a more open-minded approach than some previous ministers.

Therese Coffey, now comfortably in her second year as resource minister, has warmed to circular economy concepts and been engaged more publicly.

Gove, Coffey and co seem more accepting of the argument that we cannot avoid being bound by significant reams of red tape. Climate change minister Claire Perry acknowledged a key role for regulation in a speech on 7 December.

Regulation is the industry bedrock, and Andrea Lockerbie’s exclusive report in the January issue of MRW shows how rigorous research into waste fires will play a big part in framing new guidelines for the operation of sites.

The BMRA is dismayed the Home Office has chosen not to extend powers in the Scrap Metal Dealers Act but the door remains open for changes later and BMRA members should continue to lobby ministers and officials.

So some grounds for optimism, some less so. But, on balance and with material prices generally higher than 12 months ago, our industry seems in a better place.

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