MPs slam pay-as-you-throw pilots

Government plans for pilot pay-as-you-throw schemes are a "messy compromise" made in the face of media opposition, a group of MPs have said.

A report from the Communities and Local Government (CLG) committee said ministers should reconsider plans to devolve powers to local authorities to charge for rubbish collection, rather than run the pilots.

Under the Waste Strategy for England, published last May, councils would have been allowed to charge residents based on the amount of rubbish they throw away, but ministers dropped the plans in October.

The five pilot schemes were then announced as part of the Climate Change Bill in November.

But committee members said they will not provide enough evidence to judge whether it should be a widespread policy.

A Committee report published last year had also criticised the timidness of the pay-as-you-throw proposals in the Waste Strategy.

Committee chair Dr Phyllis Starkey said: “In our earlier report we criticised Government for making a half-hearted tilt in the direction of charging householders directly for the collection of their rubbish.

“It has since, in the face of highly negative media coverage, mounted a wholehearted retreat.”

The start date of the pilots – April 2009 – also came under fire, as MPs said it will be too late to help local authorities meet EU landfill targets before penalties come into force.

The Chartered Institution of Waste Management (CIWM) agreed that Government plans were a compromise, but said the use of extra charges to increase recycling has to be properly explored.

“What we have now is an awkward compromise and another four years before any further decisions can be taken,” said chief executive Steve Lee.

“However, we have been debating this issue for long enough. It is time to do the work that should have been done at the outset and find out whether financial incentives can work for councils and residents.”

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie