RPS Senior Engineer Debbie Nesbitt recently travelled to Leicester with a delegation from CIWM Northern Ireland to debate ‘Waste and Resources after Brexit’ during CIWM’s two-day New Member Network’s National Event.
The panel debate was chaired by CIWM’s Chief Executive, Dr. Colin Church and all UK countries were represented.
Debbie set the Northern Ireland scene by explaining the current situation in Northern Ireland with waste arisings on the increase; recycling and composting rates flat-lining; and the energy recovery rate increasing. Given the size of Northern Ireland, the land border with the Republic of Ireland and the established cooperation and action within the island of Ireland, Debbie advocated for Northern Ireland to continue to make the case for a circular economy.
Rebecca Colley-Jones, Director of Ynys Resources Ltd, representing Wales talked about the unintended consequences of the Brexit vote in Wales but had a positive outlook due to the forward thinking nature of the Welsh Assembly and the Environment Bill.
Sarah-Jane Widdowson from Ricardo Energy & Environment talked about how the legislative framework in England has been a key driver for performance and also raised questions in relation to the implications of Breixt on materials and people working in the waste industry.
Sam Grant, Director of Schuster Engineering and representing Scotland, spoke about the uncertainty the industry will face to in terms of the currency value on exports. He believed Brexit offers an opportunity to develop treatment and processing facilities in the UK.
Irrespective of Brexit the panel agreed that there remains a compelling argument for our policy makers to proceed with a programme at least as challenging as the EU Circular economy package, not only for economic benefits but also for social and environmental benefits. Brexit offers scope for the waste and resources sector in the UK to improve our resource efficiency and become more self-sufficient.
Debbie sits on the CIWM Northern Ireland Centre Council and is currently the New Member Network Coordinator for the region. Her attendance at this event was funded by CIWM.