Policy certainty needed for infrastructure investment, waste leaders say

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:

Heads of three of the UK’s leading waste management firms have said their companies would be willing to invest in infrastructure if there was more policy certainty.

Speaking at the Leaders of the Waste World panel at RWM, SUEZ CEO David Palmer-Jones, Biffa CEO Michael Topham and Viridor MD Phil Piddington all expressed a need for consistent waste policy regardless of changes at Defra and the wider government.

Palmer-Jones said: “There was a 10-year policy vacuum until Michael Gove and the Blue Planet effect changed this, but I’m less sure about investable conditions.

“We need an organisation that can deliver and be sure about strategy development.”

In what was a friendly exchange between the waste bosses, the panel agreed that investment can only follow good, consistent policy.

Topham added: “There are corporations wanting to invest in infrastructure, but this can only happen if we have the polices and guarantee that these won’t change.

"We no longer need PFI [Private Finance Initiative] agreements for project, but we do need legislation around landfill, exports, alternatives etc.”

Yet the Viridor MD stressed there would need to be participation across the industry for this to happen.

Piddington said: “If we want to make the circular economy a success, then we can only do this when individuals play their part.

“There’s so much volatility in the export market. For example, Indonesia changed its export specifications three times. No one can invest if governments are behaving like that.”

RWM is taking place at the NEC, Birmingham on 11-12 September.

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