Lax landfill traders will be fined – Bradshaw

Local authorities that fail to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill using the Government's new trading scheme will be fined, waste management minister Ben Bradshaw has said.

Giving a speech at a forum for councils to learn from authorities which have achieved so-called “beacon” status on waste, Bradshaw insisted that the Government will be tough on councils that fail to meet their landfill targets.

The UK has set a target to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste that ends up in landfill sites from 14.7 million tonnes in 2003 to 11.3 million tonnes in 2010.

To do this, it has set up the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, which allows local authorities to trade landfill permits with other authorities.

When councils reduce the amount they landfill, they can sell the additional permits to other areas which may not find it as easy to meet their target, or save the allowances for following years.

The scheme is similar to the emissions trading schemes set up in Europe and elsewhere to put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions using market mechanisms that set a price on carbon.

Bradshaw said: “There is no reason why an authority should ever need to pay a penalty – the six month reconciliation period at the end of each scheme year will give authorities the opportunity to trade or borrow allowances to ensure that they comply with their obligations.”

But he insisted that authorities that fail to comply with this will be fined: “Let me stress that the Government is serious about LATS and we will impose penalties on authorities that fail to meet their obligations, otherwise it is unfair on good performers.”

Under the legislation, local authorities will be charged a fixed penalty of £150 for every tonne of waste it landfills over its target.

He also announced that the Government is considering changes to the legislation which would require waste authorities to collect complete data on the waste they are sending to landfill. This, he said, has been one of the blockages preventing LATS from functioning effectively.

Gretchen Hendriks

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