Former Conservative MP Peter Ainsworth says the new Environment Secretary faces numerous obstacles in tackling England’s waste policy.
A London conference heard that while there were enormous opportunities for the waste industry in terms of creating jobs and delivering a more sustainable economy, the involvement of too many public bodies had turned it into ‘a complete and total utter mess’.
Mr Ainsworth said the new Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman had to tackle several thorny questions around planning, anaerobic digestion, the roll-out of recycling banks and increased landfill tax.
The chair of the Conservative Environmental Network, (CEN) told Futuresource delegates at Excel: “We are all now focused on debt reduction but we need policies for growth. Will we build an economy as if the earth matters?
“I know we can improve recycling for municipal waste. We still send half of what we don’t want to landfill where it contributes to climate change.
“Recent costs of land fill and the search for alternatives is on but in order to find the capacity we need for waste, a new facility would need to be built every day for the next 10 years.
“Is that likely to happen? I don’t think so, not on the scale or timeframe we need, unless we have a radical overhaul of the structures in place today.
“Turning all this around will take determination and courage, time and money. No doubt Caroline [Spelman] has determination and courage but not much time and no money. I breathe a huge sigh of relief it’s not me in charge of this shambles.”