Progress on joint waste strategies

Four in five English local authority two-tier areas have either adopted joint municipal waste management strategies, or are exempt from the requirement to do so, according to figures supplied by the Environment Department (DEFRA) to ENDS in early May.

The Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003 requires English local authorities in two-tier areas, subject to certain exemptions, to "have in place" a joint municipal waste management strategy 18 months from the date the 2003 Act received Royal Assent - in other words, 13 May 2005.

The 2003 Act requires authorities to prepare a statement of their strategy and send a copy to DEFRA - but a deadline is not set in the legislation.

However, to give authorities more time to take account of new guidance on municipal waste strategies, DEFRA decided that while it expected authorities to have a "strategy" in place by the deadline, it did not have to be complete. Instead, non-exempt authorities would have to demonstrate through a brief statement the steps they have taken to begin working together on the development of their joint strategy.

Exemptions from the requirement to produce joint strategies were set out in regulations issued in December. They apply where councils have met their 2003/04 recycling targets, or have been categorised as "excellent" through comprehensive performance assessment (ENDS Report 359, pp 45-46 ).

According to DEFRA, six areas are automatically exempt because every constituent authority is exempt, and five areas have been granted exemptions because the disposal authority and at least half of the collection authorities in each area have met their targets.

The remaining 29 areas are required to submit statements to DEFRA outlining their progress in developing joint strategies. All have submitted statements, with 21 having adopted finalised strategies in place, and eight expecting to adopt strategies shortly.

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