WRAP secures EU go-ahead for recycling grants

The Government's Waste and Resources Action Programme was in celebratory mood in November having received clearance from the European Commission for a series of capital grants to boost waste reprocessing industries.

The news follows an announcement from the Commission last March that it was withholding consent pending detailed assessment of various WRAP schemes because of concerns over guidelines on public support for environmental projects (ENDS Report 338, p 18 ).

Announcing its decision in November, the Commission noted that the guidelines on public support normally apply to investments that aim at reducing the pollution caused by the aid beneficiary. "They are not meant to apply to situations where the whole economic activity of the beneficiary (i.e. waste recycling as in the present case) is environmentally beneficial."

Nevertheless, noted the Commission, WRAP's measures supported recycling, which is a priority environmental objective. "The aid is necessary to overcome the extra costs linked to the recycling of certain waste products that are hardly processed at all or to development of new recycling technologies that are not market tested."

The aid was "proportionate to the objectives pursued and not causing an undue restriction of competition...."

WRAP said the clearance presented opportunities to recycle an additional one million tonnes per year of various materials by 2006.

In August, the Commission gave clearance for a WRAP grant to a newsprint mill in Wales - but only after forcing it to trim the award from £23 million to £17 million (ENDS Report 343, p 20 ).

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