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Feature: Is London's single waste authority a good idea?

London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone has suggested the idea of a single waste authority for London to help the capital improve its recycling rate and deal with as much of its waste within the confines of the capital. This would mean that local authorities would no longer be in control of how their waste is disposed of, and all planning decisions will go via the Mayor and the Greater London Assembly. There have been indications from central Government that if the Mayor is given these powers, and if he proves successful in implementing them, then this policy could be copied around the country. We asked two people to share their views

YES I support the single waste authority, says Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert

“A single waste authority for London is beginning to make sense. Although many questions remain over the contracts signed and the short-term impact of it, current arrangements are clearly unsustainable. It is time for us to make radical changes to the disposal of our waste and push towards targets set under the EU Landfill
Directive and overall waste strategy.

“Although I don’t believe that implementing the
proposal will necessarily help us meet EU waste targets it will enable London to manage its own waste problem, improve strategic planning, increase accountability, achieve greater efficiencies through greater economies of scale and improve the possibility of developing recycling and reprocessing plants within London.

“The scheme however, cannot be a totally integrated package and, as a front-line local service, responsibility for waste collection should remain with the local boroughs that should be involved in the waste authority.

“Compared with some EU countries, the UK was late getting its act together on waste and recycling. They still remain one step ahead of us as they increasingly focus on the reduction of waste produced, closing the recycling loop and reducing the ecological footprint.

“But London is catching up, with services such as London Remade providing business-to-business advice, but we now need to involve the public on the same level.
The single waste authority gives us the
opportunity to do this with an integrated approach to promote waste reduction in everyday life across the capital.”

NO I am against the single waste authority, says leader of Westminster City Council, Sir Simon Milton

“Westminster City Council’s past prudence and good performance on waste disposal places us at particular risk of losing out from a new London-wide body. It would put an end to our expected and not insignificant future Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme income. It could mean an increased cost for our council taxpayers, passed on through a higher GLA cost, and precept than our own highly advantageous waste-disposal contract. It would create a monopoly service and reduce the end benefits we can gain for our residents through a competitive marketplace.

“Furthermore, even if the single waste authority’s powers were confined to disposal only, its ability to specify the types of material it would accept and the methods of transfer from collection to disposal authority could, in practice, lead to the imposition of a ‘one size fits all’ waste collection method. This is likely to be suited to the mayor’s own priorities but fail to recognise the

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