Shadow Minister for the Natural Environment Barry Gardiner MP outlined plans to promote resource security and encourage investment in a more circular economy
Opening the second day of the CIWM and ESA annual conference, Mr Gardiner began his keynote speech with an observation about the role of government to provide a “clear, thoughtful, persuasive and strategic vision”. He reflected that the 14 most recent letters sent by the government to the Bank of England flagging up a breach of the inflation rate threshold have talked about commodity prices – highlighting clearly the vital importance of resource security and resilience.
Mr Gardiner went on to outline the role of the waste and resource management sector in delivering growth and jobs, not just as a discrete industry sector but also as one capable of acting as a ‘turbo-charge’ to support and drive growth across the wider economy. To leverage this potential, government has to play a strategic, co-ordinating role and provide the framework to allow business to make its contribution. Now, he said, “is the worst possible time for the government to disengage”, and he described the Treasury letter that cancelled a proposed cross-departmental review into resource security as “chilling”.
Setting out a number of actions that a Labour Government would put in place to deliver progress, Mr Gardiner led with a commitment to a Stern-style review of resource security, including an assessment of the cost of doing nothing. With investment in domestic recycling and reprocessing capacity also a key priority, he said Labour would seek to ensure that the Green Investment Bank would have borrowing powers from April 2015, rather than the current 2018 deadline, and would also be tasked with carrying out an investigation into the barriers to investment. As part of a review of current recycling targets and policy, the impact of the higher targets set out in Scotland and Wales on investment would also be investigated.
CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said:
“Mr Gardiner struck a chord with the audience today and CIWM was pleased to note the common ground between his words and the evidence CIWM has recently give to two Select Committees. The institution will definitely want to follow this up; we want to see these and other good ideas coming out of this conference translated into solid manifesto ambitions.”