A waste strategy board for South East England is to be created this autumn by the Government Office for the South East and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).
We will still have landfill for some time to come but we want a forward-looking vision for the region
Keith Riley, Veolia
While the board is not expected to prioritise action on municipal waste, it is set to adopt zero waste as one of its aims with a big emphasis on making use of resources.
Waste management expert Keith Riley, managing director for technical services at Veolia Environmental Services UK, is to become chairman of the new board. He brings with him substantial experience of waste management, including recycling and energy recovery, having been very involved in work in Hampshire and other counties in the region.
Oona Muirhead, director of the prosperity directorate at SEEDA, told letsrecycle.com that the board will start work on an interim basis from October and she was “delighted” that Mr Riley had agreed to be chair – he is also a SEEDA main board member. “Keith brings tremendous knowledge of the private sector and work with local authorities.”
In terms of waste activity so far, Ms Muirhead said SEEDA is “already working on a pathway to zero waste under an initiative with WRAP, the Environment Agency and other organisations.”
But, SEEDA is not set to dish out large sums of money towards projects. She explained: “We are not there to hand out money. We will be thinking about all the operational bits first.”
However, funding of projects remains a possibility, although Defra has cut back access to some of its funds. The importance of taking action is high, she said. “Waste targets are in the long term and it is easy to gain a false sense of security from this and simply think things might happen.”
In year one of a three-year timeframe, the waste strategy board will be concentrating on construction waste, waste wood and food waste. Waste wood, said Ms Muirhead, might be suitable for waste-to-energy schemes generating renewable energy. And, food waste too, she said, could be used as an energy source.
The full membership of the committee is still to be agreed and she commented: “We are looking to recruit. We want to create an exciting vision and entice everyone in around the table from the public and private sector.”
Mr Riley told letsrecycle.com that the aims of the board “will be a nice challenge to have. SEEDA has adopted a Zero Waste strategy and it is something to work towards. We want to be practical and pragmatic in our approach, moving towards that sort of objective. We will still have landfill for some time to come but we want a forward-looking vision for the region.”
He added: “It is very important to engage with businesses in the South East. Councils are pretty much there with LATs targets and pressures from government. I would like to see the committee advocating a resource management approach to waste. We have to turn materials recovery into a real business in the manufacturing sector.”