The UK Independence Party (Ukip) says it will scrap recycling targets and landfill tax if it holds the balance of power after the general election, its local government spokesperson has told MRW.
Peter Reeve, who sits on both Huntingdonshire district and Cambridgeshire county councils, says the party opposes recycling targets as they bring about unintended consequences.
“You end up with a lot of initiatives that are aimed at hitting the targets rather than getting the best outcome. For example, there are many councils that are collecting materials they cannot deal with, loading them up on lorries and sending them around the country.”
Ukip also does not support landfill tax or landfill as a disposal method.
“We would not price landfill out of the market, but we would encourage producers not to produce so much packaging materials. We would start off at source rather than at the end of the entire process,” Reeve said.
This would be done through messaging campaigns to encourage consumers to buy products with less packaging, rather than with taxation. “We don’t buy into the whole principle that you tax poor behaviour to discourage it.”
Reeve maintains that if the public is properly informed, it will take sensible decisions. This is also the case for energy-from-waste developments. Ukip does not oppose the technology, but argues developments need to be backed by the local community.
He said Ukip was behind the dismissal of the King’s Lynn project in Norfolk. “They held a referendum and 98% of the people said they didn’t want the incinerator and yet the council went ahead with it. So when we got the balance of power under our control we stopped that project.”
Referenda should become part of the planning regime, Reeve argues, but jokingly says that this would probably “bring horror to the eyes of the [waste] industry”.
However, he adds that a regime based on public support would also boost innovation because it would push the industry to develop technologies that more widely accepted.
Ukip says solutions should be developed for local needs under the principle of localism, but would support a more centralised approach to waste collections.
Partnership working was a step in the right direction but had to be scaled up the next level. “It makes absolutely no sense to not have a nationalised system,” he argued. “We think that a restructure of that entire sector and the way local government manages it could really pull a huge amount of savings for the councils. But also a huge amount of more forward thinking, vision and scale.”
However, he said the frequency of collections should be determined according to the needs of the local area.
“You don’t need a democratic process in terms of the operational side of waste collection. The bit that matters to the end user is frequency on the door step. And we would keep that decision very localised.”
In general, Ukip prefers weekly collections as a way to offer “excellent services” in return for the “considerable amounts” paid in council tax.