13 January 2004

DEFRA reveals plans for 32m new technology programme

The government has revealed plans for its 32 million programme to promote new waste treatment technologies.

The fund is expected to lead to ten new demonstrator plants being built to pilot new waste management technologies by 2006.

The New Technologies fund forms one of five workstreams in DEFRA's Waste Implementation Programme, aiming to promote new approaches to the middle part of the waste hierarchy – promoting diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill, but not through recycling or re-use.

Chaired by Peter Calliafas, head of environmental services at Barclays Bank, DEFRA's New Technologies Advisory Committee will receive and vet applications for the fund before making recommendations to DEFRA.

Mr Calliafas explained: “The aim of this programme is to explore the financial viability and environmental sustainability of near-market technologies that have the potential, in the short and medium term, to assist in diverting biodegradable municipal waste from landfill.”

The 32 million fund will be split into two funding programmes:

  • Waste Research and Innovation Programme – 2million will go to research and development projects looking at new technologies to treat biodegradable municipal waste.
  • Demonstrator Programme – 30 million will go to projects involving pilot plants demonstrating the viability of new waste technologies.

The Committee has been meeting over the last few days and is expected to finalise details on which projects will be able to apply for the 32 million fund. Speaking to letsrecycle.com, a spokeswoman for the Committee said there had already been a great deal of interest in the fund from local authorities and the private sector.

Committee members are still to define which “new technologies” will qualify for the money, but following workshops with stakeholders, DEFRA has suggested various types of mechanical biological treatment, steam treatment, advanced thermal treatment such as pyrolysis and gasification, and anaerobic digestion.

Incineration, as a commercially viable and proven technology will not qualify for the fund.

Under EC State Aid rules, funding cannot go to projects unless they are currently non-commercial and non-competitive. But, successful applications will need to address issues including value for money, commercial viability, waste tonnages diverted from landfill.

Applications for the Waste Research and Innovation Programme will be accepted when the criteria is made available on the DEFRA website by the end of this month (01/04) until the full 2 million is fully allocated.

For the 30 million Demonstrator Programme, DEFRA will hold two bidding rounds. The first round will run from March 1, 2004 until May 31, 2004. The second bidding round will be from September 1, 2004 to November 30, 2004. The New Technologies Committee's aim is to have five demonstration plants up and running by the end of 2005, with a further five by the end of 2006.

The Committee spokeswoman said: “We're expecting local authorities and the private sector to bid for the money, and preference is likely to go to partnerships between the sectors, but we don't want to narrow the field of possible applicants at this stage. We want to hear from any projects if they meet the criteria.”


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