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The politics behind recycling laws

The Government has been accused of using recycling laws as pawns in its political battles against opposition parties.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Sue Doughty MP claimed two recent legislative changes were calculated to benefit Labour-run local authorities.

The Government cut 2005/6 recycling targets for more than 100 councils to 30% - and slashed the fine for non-compliance with the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) by £50 per tonne to £150 per tonne.

Doughty insisted these changes, which local authorities have said could hamper the UK's recycling effort, were made for political gain.

"Lowering recycling targets and LATS fines only takes the pressure off the councils that are poor performers on sustainable waste management and doesn't do much to help the councils that are doing a good job," Doughty said.

"The Government is clearly taking this approach because it will give preferential help to the Labour-run councils in the north of England that tend to have very poor recycling rates and are expected to be the hardest hit by LATS fines."

The Government declined to comment further than the statement it made last week.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman had said: "Differential rates in increase in waste arisings between local authorities enable a reduction in pressure on the highest performers without compromising delivery of the 25% national recycling target for 2005/6."

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