DEFRA wants to see ‘more efficient’ EfW plants

Senior figure at UK government department urges EfW plants to apply for heat production subsidies

Deputy director for waste and recycling at UK government department DEFRA, Chris Preston, has said the government wants to support the energy-from-waste sector to increase energy efficiency as it "gets a bad rap".

Speaking at the Energy From Waste conference in London yesterday, Preston urged EfW plants to take up subsides to support the development of heat networks.

He said: "The government wants to work with industry to boost take-up on heat. The RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) is available and you should absolutely apply for these grants where they are available."

"More combined heat and power, more links to communities, that’s really important to us. We want to work with industry on how we can do that."

Preston went on to say that the EfW sector’s negative public perception was due to "belching incinerators from the 1970s", but the industry was now in his view an "absolutely crucial part of the waste hierarchy".

He also urged the EfW sector to take part in the various consultations launched around the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, which was revealed last year.

Trade body the Environmental Services Association executive director, Jacob Hayler, told the same conference he was "frustrated" by the Resources and Waste Strategy. He explained the strategy stated there was a looming EfW capacity gap in the UK, but "this was buried well back in the technical aspects" of it.

Hayler said: "Without change we're going to be well short of waste capacity by 2035, we will be 7.5 million tonnes short."

He also explained that a "minority viewpoint by one consultancy" had "clouded politician’s ability" to back the EfW sector. He did not name Eunomia, but the consultancy annually publishes a controversial report claiming a looming over capacity in the UK’s EfW sector.

Hayler also sounded a note of caution over the mention of an "incineration tax" in the strategy, saying: "In our view it won't boost recycling, but will boost costs for councils and businesses."

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