How the mini-budget could impact the sector

While there was no specific mention of waste in the ‘mini-budget’ unveiled by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng this morning (23 September), some elements of it could have an impact on the sector.

Kwasi Kwarteng unveiling his 2022 Growth Plan in parliament earlier (Picture: Parliament TV)

The ‘Growth Plan 2022’ document published soon after the Chancellor’s speech in parliament outlines a number of measures the government will take to grow the economy, mainly around tax cuts.

Areas which could be significant for the waste sector include plans to “accelerate the delivery of major infrastructure projects” and introduce legislation to limit the impact of strikes.

The government will also “set out a plan in the coming weeks to ensure the immigration system supports growth whilst maintaining control”, which could help with access to labour.

Infrastructure

Supporting the building of infrastructure forms a major part of the plans.

Two carbon capture and storage ‘clusters’ involving energy from waste plants were also specifically listed as project “which will be accelerated as fast as possible”, with the government aiming to get the vast majority starting construction by the end of 2023.

These are the Hynet Cluster in the North West, which includes Viridor’s Runcorn and Biffa’s, Protos plants, as well as the East Coast Cluster, which includes Suez’s Tees Valley facilities.

Following the statement, Ged Barlow, chief executive of Net Zero North West said: “The North West is on track to become the UK’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040, so it’s encouraging to see a number of North West projects supported in today’s Growth Plan.

“The announcement that hydrogen and carbon capture project HyNet and hydrogen storage plans by INOVYN will be accelerated for delivery helps to shore up investor confidence and underpin our regional net zero strategy. We’re also pleased to see the Ellesmere Port area, which lies at the heart of the North West industrial cluster, identified as a prime investment zone location. The transition to net zero can be a driver for economic growth, with the potential for 660,000 jobs in the North West alone. We look forward to continuing to work with the Government on this important agenda.”

Legislation

The Growth Plan announces that new legislation will be “brought forward in the coming months to address barriers by reducing unnecessary burdens to speed up the delivery of much-needed infrastructure”.

This includes:

• Reducing the burden of environmental assessments

• Reducing bureaucracy in the consultation process

• Reforming habitats and species regulations

• increasing flexibility to make changes to a DCO once it has been submitted

The Chancellor also unveiled plans for ‘investment zones’, where authorities can apply to benefit from from tax incentives, planning liberalisation, and wider support for the local economy.

The specific interventions in investment zones will include business rate reliefs, lower taxes, and accelerated development.

Trade unions

With the municipal waste sector hit by a string of collection workforce strikes this year, new legislation on industrial could also be of interest.

The government says it is “taking action to make it easier to settle industrial disputes by ensuring meaningful employer pay offers are put to employees”.

It will also introduce minimum service level requirements for rail operators “so that industrial action doesn’t make it impossible to get to and from work, and to make it easier to settle industrial disputes by ensuring meaningful employer pay offers are put to employees”.

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