Speaking to Bioenergy Insight, BBIA Managing Director David Newman has given his thoughts on the decision to abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and dissolve its responsibilities into a newly-formed Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
He told the site: “There always has been a disconnect across Whitehall between various departments trying to handle the same issues. For example, bioeconomy includes agriculture, industry, energy, waste, innovation, research. So theoretically less departments would mean more connecting and less cross referencing between various offices. If this is the intention, then well done.
“One fears of course the downgrading of attention to the nexus between climate, energy, industrial development and environmental protection by reducing the voice of the climate change element in the puzzle. In this sense, it is worrying. But if one wishes to believe the government, this is not the intention. As intentions play out through policies, we will be able to judge in a few months’ time. I hope our worst fears are not realised.”
Newman added that much will now depend on how active the government decides to be on industrial policy.
He explained: “It has been notably inactive in the last year, except to cut incentives for renewables. Waste policy has seen no new initiatives in five years (remember former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles) whilst funding for public services declines.
“Now that EU targets will no longer bear the weight of EU penalties if they are not reached, I really fear for the waste sector.
“There are no new private finance initiatives, councils are cutting services not adding to them (in England), gate fees are unsustainably low, and exports to the European waste to energy plants (three million tonnes this year) of UK refuse-derived fuels really have the Europeans laughing at us. How can we be so dumb as to send them both energy and money? Maybe a fall in landfill tax is on the cards? And recycling levels may be destined to decline further as secondary raw material markets stay soft. Anaerobic digestion will need to consolidate as the double whammy of incentive cuts and low fossil fuel prices hits hard.
“We will see if the government actually cares about this lack of progress or not. My view is that the signals will not be positive, at least in the near future.”