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Metro mayors could ‘plug policy gap’

leonie cooper large file

A network of metro mayors could help to kick-start flagging recycling rates in England, according to London Assembly environment committee chair Leonie Cooper.

Under Cooper’s stewardship, the committee has launched an inquiry into waste management in an attempt to move London towards a circular economy (CE).

London mayor Sadiq Khan wants the capital to reach a 65% household recycling rate: the current figure stands at just 32%, well behind the overall UK rate.

Cooper (pictured) said it was “absolutely pathetic” that the previous coalition Government had retreated from a waste and resources policy.

She said new regional power bases through the elected metro mayors in Birmingham, West Midland, Manchester and Bristol could provide an alternative.

“There is starting to be a network of contacts. Given that the percentage of the population in metropolitan and urban areas is getting higher, we’ve got to learn how to turn not just London’s trash into cash but across all those areas.

“If we can make it work in London, because it’s big and complicated, then it can work elsewhere. I’d prefer us all to step forward together.”

She added that Brexit was a concern as MPs may not focus on waste and resources during negotiations.

“It may be that the metro mayors need to step up to the plate on this, hopefully with support from the Government.”

The London Assembly inquiry held its first meeting earlier this month. Liz Goodwin, chair of the London Waste and Recycling Board, was among a panel of experts invited to give evidence.

She said: “It was great to see the level of interest being shown in the CE.

“I’m also looking forward to the publication of the [mayor’s] London Environment Strategy. I trust that both the committee report and the strategy will endorse the changes that are needed if we are to be successful in making London the leading CE city in the world and being zero carbon.”

The London Assembly inquiry will hold meetings until November and is expected to produce a report early in 2018.

  • A full interview with Leonie Cooper will appear in the September issue of MRW.

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