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Defra ‘considering’ funding to boost recycling

Defra is considering introducing grants for local authorities that want to enhance their recycling performance, MPs have been told.

Hampshire County Council assistant director for waste James Potter told the Efra select committee that a Defra official had indicated to members of the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (Nawdo) that cash might be available.

As Potter (pictured above) was giving evidence, SNP MP Paul Monaghan pointed out that the Welsh and Scottish Governments have given grants to local authorities to help meet the cost of delivering food waste services. He asked: ”Have you or do you plan any discussions with the UK Government on this issue?”

Potter replied: “I came this morning from a meeting of Nawdo and we had a representative of Defra there. There was … an indication that there might be some form of funding, possibly for performance enhancement processes.

“That is probably the first time it has been suggested for at least the past five years, if not longer, other than [the £250m ’Pickles’] fund. If there is that opportunity, we would be delighted to have that conversation.”

Stuart Donaldson, Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority waste strategy manager, told the MPs that such funding would be welcome because councils would not be able to boost recycling rates “on their own”.

He also called for consideration of funding from other sources, such as through extended producer responsibility.

But the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (Larac) chair Andrew Bird said that clear policy direction was as important as funding.

“I dearly hope that when [Defra] publishes the 25-year environment plan, we actually start to see some positive policy moves … that we can all buy into and support.”

Bird (pictured below) said he had seen a “vast improvement” during the past 12 months in engagement with Defra.

But Donaldson said his engagement with the Government had reduced in recent years, partly due to loss of Whitehall staff, but he said more dialogue would be welcome.

He wanted to speak to other Government departments as well, particularly regarding resource efficiency measures in the industrial strategy.

Defra has been contacted for comment.

Andrew bird efra committee

Andrew bird efra committee

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