Report calls for guidance on energy-from-waste infrastructure capacity

MPs have raised concerns over England's 'limited availability' of waste-treatment capacity and called on the government to provide guidance on how much energy-from-waste infrastructure capacity is needed in the country.

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s report, Waste management in England, also raised concerns over the "popularity of exporting refuse derived fuel (RDF) to Europe".

It highlighted that more than one million tonnes of RDF was exported from England and Wales in 2013, mainly to the Netherlands and Germany.

It said: "The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has a role to play in ensuring that the right amount of the right type of infrastructure is available and must provide the waste sector with clear guidance on how much waste treatment capacity is needed in England to gain an optimal balance between export and local treatment."

It also called on DEFRA to assess the economic impact of building the infrastructure needed to treat the RDF currently exported, and compare this to the economic impact of current exporting practices to other European countries.

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee launched the inquiry after DEFRA announced it would "step back" from areas of waste management.

Anne McIntosh, chair of the environment, food and rural affairs committee, said: "DEFRA ‘stepped back’ from waste management at a time when we need both a more ambitious approach to waste management and stronger government leadership to drive up static recycling rates in England and make better use of energy recovery options such as local heating for homes. Ministers must now show that waste policy remains an important priority."

A Defra spokesperson said the department would respond to the report "in due course."

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