Posted by Adam Read, Practice Director on 24 May 2012
The hot debate on waste infrastructure in London and the South East continued last week as the AEA-led series of European Pathway to Zero Waste (EPOW) workshops continued to attract high profile delegates and thought provoking insights into the delivery of business waste and resource processing infrastructure.
During the first five of 16 planned workshops, over 90 delegates have heard about the research to date, shared their experiences and commented on the priority interventions that are needed to ensure the region gets the infrastructure and services needed to support a modern resource efficient economy – from collection to re-use, and from separation and recovery to reprocessing and disposal.
The key issues raised at the sessions to date have focused around:
How changing feedstock composition could be a major barrier for infrastructure design and delivery; a 5 year period is hard to accurately predict, and this leaves funders concerned about the performance put forward in any business case, particularly where the scale of the facility may require a 20 year (+) payback period;
How funders will tend towards projects that have proven technologies (like MRFs and EfW facilities) and that funding is not viewed as a real problem if every other box is ticked in terms of the business plan, from feedstock identification and security, through to wide stakeholder engagement, planning and markets for the outputs. This view was however dependent on the type of funding available; and
Why the planning system is in fact not failing the sector, even without a national framework currently in place, but that those that have to engage with it may not be doing so properly or are suffering local political influence. The debate here discussed the need to develop better business proposals earlier in the process to help prove a robust case for the facility in question, the need to educate local authority planners and their elected members to help them make more rational and informed decisions, and the need to support smaller businesses in developing their planning applications so they are appropriate and deal with all the issues necessary.
Presentations from guest speakers at the workshops to date are being made available here for interested parties. If you would like to attend one of the remaining workshops taking place between now and early July 2012, venue details and booking arrangements are available here.
Photograph above taken during the workshop site tour, on Wed 16 May at Closed Loop Recycling.