Government urged to let councils drive waste programme

17 Jul 19

Local authorities must be given the “freedom to tailor their approach” to comply with the government’s waste strategy, the local government minister has been told.

The government was accused of trying to “dictate from the centre” via its waste strategy, in a letter from the housing, communities and local government committee.

The strategy, unveiled in December 2018, aims to minimise waste and increase recycling rates, but ministers on the committee said it is inflexible and does not account for different types of authority.

The letter, sent to local government minister Rishi Sunak, also raised concerns that local authority representatives had not been sufficiently consulted in advance of the publication of the strategy.

Clive Betts, chair of the committee, said: “In determining how often waste should be collected, the number of recycling bins or what services should be charged for, the government appears to have forgotten that what works in rural areas may not be suitable for cities.

Local authorities understand what the challenges are in their areas and should be given the freedom to tailor their approach to meet them.”

Betts noted that the strategy would require homes to have between four and six bins outside their homes, which he said would not be feasible for those living in urban areas where outside space is limited.

A letter to environment secretary Michael Gove seen by PF last month suggested that councils in London believe the strategy leaves them “significantly and unfairly disadvantaged”.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has committed to meeting new costs arising from the policy, yet the letter highlighted “deep scepticism from local authorities that sufficient funding will be provided”.

The committee said that the UK’s current recycling infrastructure is “inadequate” for meeting the targets set out in the strategy and suggested that as much as £20bn would be needed.

Betts said: “It will require significant investment to improve recycling infrastructure and ongoing waste management costs arising from the government’s proposals will be higher.

“The government has indicated it will provide more funding, but they must demonstrate that this will be adequate in the long-term. Local authorities are already struggling, and they cannot be expected to shoulder further burden without extra resourcing.”

MHCLG has been contacted for comment.

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