Scottish councils do not have adequate plans to meet landfill and recycling targets beyond 2010, according to a critical new report.
The report is written by Audit Scotland and is entitled Protecting and improving Scotlands environment. Audit Scotland provides the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission with the services they need to check that public money is being spent effectively and efficiently.
Scotland has to reduce the amount of municipal waste being recycled or composted to 40 per cent by the end of 2010 and 50 per cent by 2013.
The study explains that some of the mechanisms to increase recycling and reduce waste for individual councils in Scotland are reserved to the UK Government (e.g. landfill tax), or may not be readily publicly acceptable (e.g. charging households for the amount of waste they produce).
The report suggests that councils need additional waste management facilities to meet national landfill and recycling targets.
Scotland Accounts Commission chair John Baillie said: Councils play a key role in protecting and improving the environment, in particular, with regards to waste management. Since the publication of our 2007 report Sustainable waste management, councils have made significant progress but it is concerning that, taken together, councils individual plans are not yet adequate to meet landfill targets beyond 2010.
Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs spokesman Liam McArthur MSP added: This report provides plenty of food for thought. Ministers must now respond positively to Audit Scotlands recommendations, not least in terms of the need for better coordinated planning and action at both a local and national level.
It is particularly concerning that key waste management targets may not be met. Lib Dems revealed in September the shocking level of complacency from SNP Ministers over their own target for a zero waste society. Lib Dems also voiced concerns about the decision by SNP Ministers to remove £26 million from the Strategic Waste Fund in previous budgets.
The Scottish Executive set up the Strategic Waste Fund to provide councils with dedicated funding to improve waste management but this stopped after the Scottish Government announced a new approach to waste management at the end of 2008. It has now established a zero waste fund totalling £152m.
McArthur said that the decision by the SNP Minsters to stop the Strategic Waste Fund would undermine efforts to support collaboration action by local authorities, essential to meeting waste objectives.
He added: We need action on the issues raised by Audit Scotland and not just more rhetoric from the SNP if we are to protect properly Scotlands environment.