The UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) could result in economic downturn and the slow degradation of environmental regulations in the waste and water industries.
That was the view of high-level panellists who appeared before the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee at the House of Lords earlier this week (2 November); providing evidence on the UK’s environment and climate change policy after Brexit.
Speaking on behalf of the waste industry was Environmental Services Association (ESA) executive director Jacob Hayler, who expressed his concerns over the economic impact of Brexit.
Currently, the UK exports around four million tonnes of waste as fuel to the EU due to a limited domestic landfill capacity. But according to Hayler, this figure could diminish if the price of waste material rises from the present level of £60 to an estimated £75 per tonne under post-Brexit trade tariffs.
“I think a big fear for the industry at the moment is that we’re facing what we consider to be a looming capacity crunch where landfill capacity is closing throughout the country,” Hayler said. “We’re not bringing forward the investment in domestic treatment facilities. To date, we’ve been relying on exporting a lot of that material to other parts of northern Europe.
“Since the referendum decision, we’ve seen the sterling impact which has dramatically increased the costs of that option and fears about future potential tariffs that might limit that even further would drive up costs and create difficulties for waste management in the UK.”