The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs this month announced it had issued the PFI credits to a North Yorkshire partnership to improve waste management facilities in the region.

Environment Minister Joan Ruddock said: “Reducing our reliance on landfill is an essential part of the drive to tackle climate change and I welcome the ambitious commitment made by the North Yorkshire County Council and York City Council partnership.

“PFI agreements like this one provide an incentive for local authorities and industry to work together to achieve our goals for cutting waste, reducing its environmental impact, and making better use and reuse of the waste we create.”

Plans include increasing recycling and composting as well a mechanical and biological treatment plant (MBT) to process municipal waste and an incinerator.

As a result North Yorkshire and York will divert from landfill over three-quarters of municipal waste collected in their areas by 2033.

The project is being led by North Yorkshire County Council in partnership with York City Council.

Local authorities spent just over £2.4bn on waste collection and disposal in England in 2005/06, mostly through contracts with the private sector. Landfill dominates disposal.

Some 22 authorities have benefited from £900m cash injections from waste PFI funding since 1997.

The UK has one of the highest levels of landfill in Europe – presently 64 per cent of the 35 million tonnes of municipal waste produced goes to landfill.

Under the European Union Landfill Directive, the UK is charged with reducing waste to landfill to 75 percent of 1995 levels by 2010, 50 percent by 2013 and 35 percent by 2020.

David Gibbs

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