A promise of additional government funding for Defra and local authorities has been welcomed, but some of the money must underpin the Resources and Waste Strategy, waste industry figures have said.
Chancellor Sajid Javid promised to ‘turn the page on austerity’ outlining his spending round for government departments and local authorities yesterday, in which he pledged a 3.3% increase in funding for Defra, as well as money to insulate the Department against Brexit (see letsrecycle.com story).
The funding boost for the Department, which has had successive cuts to its budget in recent years, is seen as a welcome move by the government.
David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of Suez recycling and recovery UK, said: “We welcome the government’s spending commitment in support of Defra, which is absolutely necessary to help tackle the greatest challenges the country will face, long after the outcome of Brexit is decided – how we balance economic growth and society’s seemingly endless consumption of natural capital, with the need to urgently address climate change and essential precious natural resources.”
However, pointing to recent developments in Parliament, where further doubt has been cast over the timetable and outcome of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, Mr Palmer-Jones warned: “we cannot afford for the funding required to deliver this vital work to be lost or re-appropriated through parliamentary machinations in pursuit of Brexit.”
Turning to the Strategy, said: “Defra has set out an ambitious vision in its Resources & Waste Strategy for a more sustainable UK economy, outside of the EU, which has significant support among manufacturers, local authorities, recycling organisations and the public.
“Now is the time to start delivering on this policy if the Conservative government wants to cement a legacy of achieving the long-term environmental ambitions set out over the past two years.”David Palmer-Jones
“Now is the time to start delivering on this policy if the Conservative government wants to cement a legacy of achieving the long-term environmental ambitions set out over the past two years.”
Richard Kirkman, chief technology and innovation officer at Veolia also welcomed the funding boost for the Department, and called for government to follow through on its commitments set out in the Strategy, to spur investment from the private sector.
He said: “We welcome government’s ambition through Defra to ensure the UK is at the forefront of environmental standards. Our sector is willing to invest £10 billion in recycling and waste infrastructure to future proof the UK to ensure we are self sufficient – this won’t cost the taxpayers a penny.
“Now is the time to show we are open for business and what we need government to do is enable policy and the planning process to make this a reality.”
Through the spending round the Chancellor also outlined a funding package of more than £3.5 billion for council services, described as the biggest year-on-year real-terms increase in spending for local government in a decade.
Cllr James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said that the additional resources will provide councils with ‘much of the certainty they need about how local services will be funded next year’.
He commented: “We are ready to work with the Government on how a forthcoming Queen’s Speech can spark the radical legislative programme that will reignite the devolution process so councils can continue to lead their local areas and improve the lives of their residents.”
Mr Javid also yesterday announced that extra funding would be given to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to develop new programmes to meet the government’s commitment for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The move was welcomed by Darryl Eyers, President of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), who called for ‘coherent national policies’ around the environment.
He said: “Whilst we also welcome the strong messages around climate change, we – like the private sector – are calling for a more structured approach towards investment and planning. Radical change is needed to tackle the climate emergency and for this we need coherent national policies, robust regulations and strong regulatory powers.”