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Defra hits back at scrapped 'bin tax' claims

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has described media reports that Gordon Brown has scrapped proposed bin taxes as nonsense. Defra had release a summary of responses to the consultation on the Incentives for Recycling by Households. This led to some sections of the media to claim that Defra were preparing to unveil a bin tax scheme and that Gordon Brown had scrapped it. However, a Defra spokeswoman dismissed the claims and said: All of this is speculation by the media. We released responses to a consultation that took place in August and there is no timescale as to when we are going to announce when a bin tax should happen. It is pure hysteria and nonsense coming from somewhere and we are going to unveil the scheme to MPs when we feel ready to. The consultation asked local authority waste officers and waste practitioners on whether local authorities should be given the power to charge householders for the amount of waste they throw away. Two of the three options put to them included a localised waste charge or a revenue neutral financial incentive scheme. The latter would involve local authorities returning money back to those householders who recycled the most. Friends of the Earth senior waste and resources campaigner Michael Warhust said: We should not assume that it is not going to happen. There may be a case for delaying the proposal. It is surprising that some find the measure controversial. It is not controversial; it is the same as saving energy you get the same awards for saving energy. We already pay a bin tax in council tax and it will vary on the basis of who is recycling more of their rubbish. The system works in other European countries, for instance, in Belgium they use it extensively and you have to pay for the amount of rubbish you throw away. Warhurst admits, however, that households with bigger families may be hit hard by the scheme but says the problem could be solved by allowing them a higher allowance. The bin taxes are seen by Defra as one option to increase recycling rates and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.

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