ESA seeks greater government support for EfW
The comments comes as part of a raft of recommendations for government made by the trade association in its policy document “Driving change: Policy proposals for a greener government”, which was published today (October 27).
At the centre of the document, which focuses mainly on planning issues, is a call for the government to take an “active stance” on energy from waste “in its various forms”, as well as helping to “correct prevalent misconceptions” about treatment technologies which generate energy from waste.
Outlining the basis for its recommendations in the document’s foreword, Ian Goodfellow, chairman of the ESA, said: “ESA’s mission on behalf of its members is to work with governments, parliaments and regulators to bring about a sustainable system of waste management for the UK.
“‘Driving change: Policy proposals for a greener government’ seeks to identify the opportunities to make this possible and to act as a guide as to how Government’s aspirations, industry requirements and environmental and local needs can be actioned.”
In terms of the potential for EfW, the document explains that currently “vociferous public objection to, and demonstrable lack of political support for, planning applications is common”, and claims this could hinder the potential for 17% of total electricity consumption to be generated from residual waste by 2020.
Furthermore, the ESA claimed the uptake of the technologies is impeded by “outdated and incorrect perceptions” around environmental and health impacts of EfW. In the policy proposals, the ESA claims that the government should work to help tackle these issues.
The ESA also urges the government to take a “rational” approach to the planning process regarding EfW proposals, which would take into account the applicable “silent, local and national interests”.
In order to help drive development of energy from waste technologies, the ESA claims that the government needs to recognise the role that EfW can play with regards to both waste management and renewable energy generation. Therefore it recommends making it a coordinated priority for both Defra and the Department of Energy Climate Change (DECC).
Earlier this week, the government acknowledged in its National Infrastructure Plan document that energy from waste technologies would play a “valuable” role in future waste management (see letsrecycle.com story).
With regards to planning as a whole, which has been a long-standing issue for the ESA, the trade association urges the government to redress the system in a bid to help foster the £10-£20 billion investment in waste facilities needed by 2020.
Stressing the difficulty facing the sector, the ESA highlighted that of the 12 applications for energy-from-waste plants submitted by its members in 2008, nine were refused and, of those, seven had been recommended for approval.
In cases such as those recommended for approval but refused, the ESA claims that the government should be empowered to require local authorities to review planning applications and notify the planning authority of the financial costs if the decision was subsequently not upheld on appeal.
Also, the ESA states that the decision to abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission, which it has raised concern about before (see letsrecycle.com story), could prevent an opportunity to lower the threshold for what is classed as a large-scale project, allowing more waste plants to be fast-tracked.
The issue of planning ties in with concerns over funding raised by the ESA. The trade association states that “funders need to be able to build financial models based on stable long-term assumptions” and suggest that the government should establish an “enhanced capital allowance regime” to provide targeted infrastructure for waste.