Industry reacts to Conservative Party win
The waste and resources industry has wasted no time in reacting to the news that the Conservative Party will form a majority government following this week’s general election.
The surprising result of the election, announced today (8 May), proved predictions of a hung parliament wrong, and has so far seen the party win 327 seats of the 650 seats up for grabs in Parliament, meaning that the party has enough seats to form a majority government.
Due to the political upheaval, several prominent figures of the environmental sector – especially those that belonged to the Liberal Democrat (Lib Dem) Party – have lost their parliamentary seats. Former Resource Minister Dan Rogerson was a victim of the Liberal Democrats’ disastrous election, losing his North Cornwall seat by more than 6,500 votes to Conservative Scott Mann. Coalition Energy Secretary Ed Davey was another Lib Dem to lose his seat to the Conservatives – seeing his 7,500 majority disappear in Kingston and Surbiton.
However, the Conservative’s weekly collections advocate, Eric Pickles, who was Minister of Communities and Local Government in the coalition, held onto his Conservative seat in Brentwood and Ongar.
Several members of the waste and resources sector have already reacted to the news of the Conservatives’ win, calling on the new government to provide better clarity and leadership on waste and resource policy.
The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) has issued a statement calling on the next government to play a decisive role in the new European Circular Economy Package, and deliver a ‘comprehensive set of core policies’ on waste and recycling to provide certainty and inform industry investment decisions over the government’s term.
Ian Hetherington, Director General of the BRMA, said: “We hope that the whole topic of waste, reuse, recycling, resource efficiency and the treatment of unrecyclable residues is debated fully in place of the fractured sub-topical monologues that has characterised recent years.
“The recycling industry has done a great deal to further this agenda, but we do need a strong lead from the government to ensure that the positive value of material destined for recycling is not frittered away by the over-zealous and over-complicated enforcement of regulations designed for genuine problem wastes.”
UK needs ‘effective co-ordination of policy to support resource efficiency’
The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has also commented, with Steve Lee, the institution’s Chief Executive, highlighting that neither environment or resource management featured in the party’s election campaign “despite their clear importance in delivering jobs and sustainable economic growth, as well as protecting people and the environment”.
He added: “Early priorities must include the European Circular Economy Package, which will set the path for years to come in this industry.
“We need early and clear decisions regarding government departmental responsibilities and the effective co-ordination of policy to support resource efficiency and green economic growth.
“The next five years must be productive ones, not fallow, in delivering a more resource-efficient UK.”
The Environmental Services Association (ESA), a trade association for the UK’s resource and waste management industry, said that it also hoped the next government could “find a way for us to meet our 2020 household recycling targets without local authorities going bust”.
The Chief Policy Advisor of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) also commented today, stating: “David Cameron’s commitment to ‘One Nation’ needs to be underpinned by a commitment to ‘One Planet’.”
He added: “Central to this will be climate leadership – domestically in meeting carbon budgets and internationally with support for an international agreement in Paris.”
‘Conservative government likely to lead to further public spending cuts’
Speaking on behalf of waste management company FCC Environment, Sales and Marketing Director Kristian Dales, noted that recycling rates in England have plateaued under the Conservative's leadership.
He added: “The Conservative government will face some tough challenges such as achieving the 50 per cent recycling target by 2020 in light of England’s flatlining recycling rate.
“Our industry urgently needs consistent legislative and economic drivers from the government to encourage investment in infrastructure and market growth to reverse the stagnation of recycling rates. It’s the responsibility of the waste management and resource sector to work within the framework of regulations to drive up recycling and energy recovery rates.”
Dales continued: “A Conservative government will result in considerable repercussions for local authorities, waste collectors and processors. It is likely to lead to further public spending cuts, which could potentially impact on municipal waste collections.”
He also warned that the Conservatives' promise to host an EU referendum could “lead to a partial or total exit for the EU”, which would “have significant implications on the waste industry, given the EU’s influence on waste policy in the UK”.
Concluding, Dales said: “Unfortunately, waste and resource management policies have been mostly absent from the election campaigns of the main political parties. Whilst the issue of waste may not be a vote winner, everyone needs their waste removed and the industry makes a substantial contribution to the UK’s economy.”
Earlier this week, renewable electricity firm Ecotricity unveiled its ‘2030 Vision for a Green Britain’, which called on the incoming government to bring in a range of measures to realise a more sustainable Britain.
Owner Dale Vince said: “The politicians we put in power in 2015 will lead the UK through a period which will go a long way to deciding our low-carbon future.
“Government has done some smart things. But we have to go much further, and under the [previous] government progress slowed too much.
“We need to set some targets for where we want to be in 2030. And we need a roadmap to get there.”
Find out more about The Conservative Party’s manifesto.