Government response to waste report

The Government has issued its response to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee's report on waste.1

Most of the response simply repeats information included in last May's response by the Government to the Strategy Unit's waste review.

Although the Government describes the problem of waste as "a towering challenge", it offers few new policy ideas. Pleas by the Committee for it to increase the landfill tax escalator and speed up consideration of the introduction of variable waste charging have been rejected.

As part of the current review of Best Value performance indicators for local authorities, the Government is considering how data already collected under the regime could be used to measure household waste minimisation from 2004/05. The review is also looking at the possibility of introducing material-specific recycling targets (ENDS Report 345, p 38 ).

In response to the Committee's argument that it is not doing enough on minimisation, the Government says that provisional estimates suggest it is on course to meet its target to reduce the amount of commercial and industrial waste going to landfill to 85% of 1998 levels by 2005/06.

An additional £1.5 million has been provided for the Environment Department's waste implementation programme, announced in May (ENDS Report 340, pp 46-47 ).

DEFRA is supporting the Environment Agency's bid for £14 million, plus annual running costs of £1 million, to establish a fly-tipping abatement task force (ENDS Report 340, p 20 ). But no commitment is being given as funds "need to be found through the normal spending process."

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