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Government needs to act more quickly to ensure landfill targets are met, say MP's

The Government needs to take urgent action on reducing landfill waste to ensure that taxpayers do not have to pay European Union landfill taxes, according to a new report. According to the critical Public Accounts Committee report taxpayers will have to pay up to £180 million a year if the amount of waste going to landfill is not decreased. It accuses the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) of being to slow to take action on the 1999 EU directive on reducing landfill waste. The report says that recycling alone will not help in meeting targets and that investment in new infrastructure will, although they may not be built in time to meet landfill targets. The report said: There (is) a significant risk that there would not be enough plants operational in time. There has been little collaboration between authorities and only six of the 25 largest waste disposal authorities were confident of meeting the 2010 target. Under the 1999 EU directive, Britain must cut the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill from 18.1 million tonnes dumped in 2003-04 to 13.7 million tonnes by 2010. Public Accounts Committee chairman Edward Leigh said: The UK has traditionally got rid of its rubbish by pouring large quantities of it into holes in the ground. Faced with the 1999 EU Directive limiting the amount of waste sent to landfill, Defra issued no fewer than four vaguely worded consultation papers and strategies on waste management but did little else. If the UK misses these targets, taxpayers will have to stump the money to pay a huge fine to the European Commission. Local Government Association chairman Paul Bettison added: We agree with the Committee that Government needs to live up to its responsibilities. Its own figures show that councils waste spending will have to increase by approximately 10% each year over the next three years. The increase in funding for new facilities through the Private Finance Initiative and other Government initiatives may be very helpful for the longer term, but is unlikely to alleviate these cost pressures significantly in the short term.

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