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Feature: Mountains to move in Wales

With a stark view of the waste management problem and a series of hard-hitting recommendations, a report by the Welsh Assembly's environment committee calls for increased funding so that councils in Wales can start making a real impact on tackling the issue effectively.

During the inquiry, which began last October, the committee heard evidence from a range of public bodies and organisations in the voluntary and community sectors. The committee also visited a number of sites and facilities to see the different methods and technologies currently available for recycling and composting.

Wales is running out of landfill sites and the challenge to increase the amount of waste being recycled is a tough one. As a result, the report, Meeting Landfill and Recycling Targets, calls on the Government to increase substantially the funding available to local authorities for recycling and composting.

Assembly member Alun Ffred Jones, chairman of the committee, said: "Dealing with the waste for which we are all responsible is a growing and extremely serious problem in Wales. We landfill the vast majority of our waste while the space to do so is rapidly decreasing, and even though most of us are more aware of the need to recycle and compost, the tendency is to assume that dealing with waste is someone else's problem."

Last year 84% of Welsh waste went to landfill with just 10% recycled and 6% composted. Jones said that while the inquiry acknowledged the substantial funding that the Government has provided so far, a considerable increase is needed if the 2009/10 target of recycling/composting 40% of municipal waste is to be met.

Waste collection and disposal in Wales is funded mainly by the Welsh Assembly Government's Revenue Support Grant and also by a portion of council tax. But since 2001/02, the assembly has provided additional funding via a Specific Sustainable Waste Management Grant, which may only be spent on certain activities relating to waste management and recycling and may not be used to fund energy from waste projects.

Between 2001/02 and 2004/05, the Welsh Assembly provided specific grant and supplementary credit approvals of £63.5 million to local authorities and a further £93m is being made available for 2005-08.

Last year the assembly introduced a grant brokering system to allow local authorities to spend more than their Specific Sustainable Waste Management Grant allocation by borrowing from underspending authorities. This ensures that underspent monies are not lost.

Although Wales is certainly ahead of Scotland in recycling and composting municipal waste, it is undoubtedly lagging behind England in its reduction of the use of landfill. In order to meet the waste and recycling challenge, the report recommends that the Welsh Assembly provides an indication to local authorities of the level of capital and operational funding that will be available to them until at least 2013, in order to enable long-term planning and business security.

It also states that funds should be ring-fenced to give local authorities the chance to work together on developing regional facilities - such as composting of kitchen waste - and that sufficient funds should be provided to ensure that local authorities are able to roll out kerbside collection systems "to a level consistent with securing the delivery of recycling, composting and landfill diversion targets".

In addition, the report recommends that th

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