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Capped recycling targets: the debate rages on

The Government has defended itself after heavy criticism was levelled at its decision to reduce recycling targets for 103 councils.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has insisted the move will not hold back attempts at meeting Landfill Directive targets.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley announced in December that local authority targets would be capped at 30% for 2005/6.

Councils, recyclers and pressure groups reacted angrily to this, saying it would prevent the UK meeting its 25% recycling target for the same period.

A Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee spokesman said: "LARAC is concerned this could mean the Government-desired step change does not continue."

Community Recycling Network UK co-ordinator Andy Moore added: "This move is disappointing. We hope this is not an indicator that political will is faltering."

Friends of the Earth waste campaigner Claire Wilton said: "This is a breathtaking U-turn. The Government is risking big fines from the European Commission."

But the Government hit back. A spokesman said: "Differential rates of increase in waste arisings between local authorities enable a reduction in pressure on the highest performers without compromising delivery of the 25% national recycling target for 2005/06."

Latest figures show English councils recycled 14.5% in 2002/3, while the Government set a 25% target for 2005/6 to ensure the UK was reducing its reliance on landfill enough to comply with future Landfill Directive requirements.

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