Chancellor Alistair Darling is scheduled to announce the pre-Budget Report in the coming days and has indicated that there will be increased Government spending on infrastructure projects as part of a package of measures to stimulate the UK economy.
In an exclusive interview with MRW, Jane Kennedy said: “Waste will be one of the sectors [that gets infrastructure funding]. We have the pre-Budget Report coming shortly and the Chancellor will announce the funding for infrastructure projects then.
“But we still believe that we need to keep up the pace with waste infrastructure and the announcement I made this week of PFI credits for Gloucestershire shows the momentum will continue.”
The Minister also said that she was monitoring the effect the huge price falls in recyclable commodities was having on local authorities before deciding if Government intervention is required or even if it could make a difference.
“It is always risky to make predictions in markets, and there is no question that the current market for commodities is volatile. But my experience at the Treasury working with the financial sector has shown me that even global efforts need time to take effect and we must be cautious about jumping in too soon. Any solutions will have to be proportionate.
“What it does mean is that we should look harder at the UK and how some recyclates can be used here within our own economy. We need to be more vigorous to ensure that as much recyclate is dealt with here as possible.”
She also said that the current market conditions would mean a need to focus on high quality recyclate and that a committee had been set up to assess this as well as temporary storage solutions to deal with recyclate that cannot be exported in the current climate.
The Minister was attending the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) conference, organised by MRW Conferences, and held at the International Centre in Telford.
In her speech to almost 400 delegates, she said that she was new to the recycling and waste brief but was willing to listen and learn.
She added: “It is not a surprise that waste and recycling is high up the political agenda. For politicians waste is a political hot potato. Every time I knock on a householder’s door, waste is one of the things they want to talk about. It is a universal service for the householder and it is no surprise they want a service that works.”
The Minister also said that there would be an increasing focus on commercial and industrial waste, particularly in the construction sector which represents one third of the waste stream.
She also suggested that her officials were reviewing whether the Government’s policies on packaging were working and in response to questions said that she would ask officials to review the situation regarding the end to ring-fencing of landfill tax for local authority and business recycling projects as well as the impact the recent reduction in funding was having on the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).