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UK could miss landfill diversion targets - Bradshaw

Environment minister Ben Bradshaw has hinted that the UK may miss its targets for diverting biodegradable municipal waste in 2010 and 2013 unless investment for facilities is found.

In an answer to a Parliamentary question, Bradshaw said that the targets were “very challenging but achievable”.

However, he added: “It depends on necessary investment soon in facilities including those to recover energy from biodegradable waste where there is no reasonable prospect of it being recycled or composted.”

In the recent Waste Strategy Review regulatory impact assessment, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) predicted that to meet the targets, between 170 and 220 new energy recovery facilities across England would need to be built in the next four years to meet the first target by 2010. However, this rises sharply to between 330 and 540 to meet the 2013 target. The cost to meet this second target is estimated at 2003/04 prices at between £5.3 billion and £7.4 billion.

This would be achieved through Private Finance Initiative (PFI), prudential borrowing, PFI variance structures, PPP (Public Private Partnerships) and corporate finance by local authorities.

If the UK as a whole were to miss these targets, the European Union could begin fining the UK up to €5 million per day. The cost of these fines could be passed onto to local authorities.

The UK has already claimed a four year delay to meeting the target because it sent 80% of its waste to landfill in 1995. This meant that by 2010 it needed to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) sent to landfill to 75% of that sent in 1995 and by 50% in 2013.

However, Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) chairwoman Joy Blizzard said that the main reason the targets would be “very challenging” is because of planning departments.

She said: “My concern is getting the planning permission for these facilities. Even if we get the finance, it is impossible to build these facilities without planning permission and the planning departments haven’t made it easy.”

A spokeswoman for Defra said that planning difficulties were currently being dealt with by the PPS-10 regulations that require local authorities to identify sites for recycling and waste facilities as part of their local plans.

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