Planning applications to build new green waste management sites have dropped by 20% since last year.
That’s according to a new report from commercial law firm EMW, which shows the figure fell to 189 in 2015/16 from 237 in 2014/15, a five-year low.
These figures include applications for materials recycling sites, composting and anaerobic digestion centres and incineration plants using energy recovery.
The report suggests the main reason for the decline is local authorities’ continually reducing budgets, combined with uncertainty of whether EU subsidies for recycling and waste energy will vanish following Brexit.
It says the fall is likely to make a significant dent in councils’ commitments to delivering alternative, clean energy and potentially, national waste goals.
Without enough sites being built, the current system risks becoming over-stretched, particularly as the population continues to rise. This will result in the increased use of landfills and other environmentally damaging practices.
EMW says local authorities are under constant pressure to deliver significant cost savings – it says over the past five years, local councils have had to find £20 billion of savings amid cuts of 40% in funding.
James Geary, Principal at EMW, said: “Budget cuts and Brexit have placed the UK’s waste management sector 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.”
The Mayor of London has nominated a waste expert to help boost recycling and reduce waste.