Hostility was shown towards local authority (LA) refuse charging pilot, which is part of the Climate Change Bill, as it was read in the House of Lords this week.
The debate covered the pilots for pay as you throw schemes, which will be run by five, yet to be named, LAs. Questions about the schemes validity as a method for reducing greenhouse emissions were raised because household waste only accounts for about 10% of total UK waste. Some Lords felt that other issues, such as the drop in competitiveness of UK recycling industries internationally, particularly the glass industry, were more important. Lord Crickhowell said: Why is something not being done as a matter of urgency? Why are we having a trivial scheme pilot for five local authorities to see whether they can get householders to create a better split of their rubbish?
However, Lord Rooker, who read the Bill to the House defended the scheme: This measure complements action elsewhere, it does not replace it.
Further criticism came from Lord Greaves, who said: I cannot find a council that is enthusiastic about doing this, and challenged Rooker to name names. But Rooker had explained earlier: We have had discussions with local authorities, but there is no secret list in a drawer in Whitehall of councils that have been lined up to trial these schemes. We have not had authorities declaring themselves as potential candidates but we have had several informal conversations with authorities and other stakeholders. We are at a very early stage in the legislation we would not expect to receive formal applications until Parliament has concluded its considerations.
Interest in which councils would run the pilots focussed on ensuring that a representative trial took place. Lord Greaves commented: One of our fears is that is that the pilots will be in easy areas. If the pilots are going to be worthwhile we have to tackle some of the difficult problems.
Government backing for the scheme has remained constant since the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) called for LAs to come forward for the scheme at the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) conference in November 2007 (mrw.co.uk November 16 2007).