Industry reacts to General Election result

The recent election resulted in the Conservative party being voted out of government, with Labour securing a strong mandate. The Conservatives managed to secure 119 seats, but it is evident that voters are seeking change.

Labour’s mandate will empower Sir Keir Starmer to lead the country, although financial constraints will impact the delivery of their plans. Voters have certain expectations, such as addressing the Rwanda policy, resolving the financial crisis in higher education, and restoring the NHS to a functional and dependable service.

Additionally, the election saw the Liberal Democrats regain strength with over 70 seats, while the SNP’s influence decreased to fewer than 10 seats. This has positioned the Liberal Democrats as the third party, and the issue of Scottish independence seems to have subsided with the decline of the SNP.

The newly formed party, Reform, could potentially challenge the government, although the extent of their impact remains uncertain. The Conservatives now face a crucial decision: learn from the defeat and become more appealing to voters, or retreat to ideological comfort zones, prolonging their time in opposition.

Following the announcement of the general election result, industry leaders have outlined their priorities for the new government.

Michael Topham,
Biffa CEO

Michael Topham, Biffa CEO, said: “We’re pleased to welcome the new government and look forward to working with them to deliver the ambitious vision of a circular economy. 

“The government has pledged to collaborate with industry to deliver its manifesto commitments, including a renewed industrial strategy, infrastructure proposals, and ‘green’ economic growth. A stable and clear policy environment with realistic timetables and consistency across all devolved nations will be key to allowing the waste sector to invest and innovate.  

“Its first priority for the waste sector must be successfully implementing planned policies such as Extended Producer Responsibility, Simpler Recycling and a UK-wide deposit return scheme for drinks bottles and cans. 

“We also urge the government to make the Plastics Packaging Tax more ambitious over time, to ban the export of unprocessed plastic waste, and to support the decarbonisation of our sector through promoting carbon capture and zero emissions collections. Through these policies, we can ensure that recycling is maximised and that we deal with our own waste properly here in the UK. 

“With the right policies in place, the waste sector has the skills, capital and ambition to deliver a circular economy for the UK. Delivering a more sustainable UK waste sector is not easy but represents a huge opportunity. We are ready to support the new government in rising to the challenge.  

“The transition to decarbonised energy and transport systems is increasingly urgent, and the waste sector must move to no or low carbon collection fleets.  

“Biffa has already started to adopt alternative fuels across our fleet, with more than 94 battery electric vehicles and electric HGVs, and 64 renewable diesel (including HVO) fuelled vehicles, in service.  

“A huge obstacle to further decarbonisation, identified by Labour, is the electricity distribution grid. Here we need to up the pace and ensure that grid upgrade costs are not imposed only on the first to act.  

“We also welcome Labour’s commitment to accelerating the rollout of charge points; shared charging infrastructure should be encouraged to save space in metropolitan areas. It is vital that electrical commercial vehicles are always given equal focus as domestic vehicles. 

“To support the transition to net zero, we’re also urging the government to introduce zero-emissions zones, speed up the adoption of electric vehicles, stimulate innovation and investment in new technologies, and improve air quality and reduce noise.  

“We welcome the government’s pledge to make Britain a ‘clean energy superpower’. Energy recovery from waste has a key role to play in this as a cost-effective, low-carbon option that contributes to the UK’s energy security.  

“However, the capacity needed across the UK’s network of energy recovery facilities (ERFs) is almost in place. The government should now impose a moratorium on granting planning permissions to new ERFs.  

“Overcapacity in this sector would make it harder to encourage waste to move up the hierarchy into reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery, such as developing sustainable aviation fuels from residual waste. 

“In addition, the government must support the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at ERFs. This will be crucial to help the waste sector move towards net zero.”

Director of Operations Viki Bell, from The Construction Equipment Association (CEA,)  congratulated the Labour Party and Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer on their election win. She expressed readiness to engage actively with the new Labour government to address crucial challenges and seize opportunities highlighted in their 2024 Manifesto.

Labour’s platform’s commitment to decarbonisation, digital transformation, and skills development aligns closely with the industry’s goals.

Labour’s plans for a new industrial strategy, building 1.5 million new homes in England, and substantial investment in green measures are seen as positive initiatives benefiting the construction equipment industry and the wider economy.

They also look forward to collaborating on digital legislation and cybersecurity measures and addressing the skills gap to maintain a competitive edge.

Lee Marshall, Director of Innovation and Technical Services at The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, said:  “CIWM would like to welcome the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Steve Reed, together with his colleagues Ed Miliband (Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero) and Bridget Phillipson (Secretary of State for Education). CIWM is committed to working across government to realise Labour’s manifesto commitment to ‘reduce waste by moving to a circular economy.’

“Shortly before the election, CIWM published its resources policy blueprint. This contained ten ‘policy asks’ designed to accelerate the transition to a more resource-resilient and circular economy, capable of meeting future material demands and supporting the battle against climate change. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this blueprint and establish how CIWM can reinvigorate the pace of policy implementation and support the new government in moving to a world beyond waste.”   

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