Wales doubles funding for waste management

Waste management in Wales is to be given a substantial boost over the next two years with the addition of an extra £8 million from the UK Treasury; to help fund priority needs within local government, on top of the £10 million allocated by the Welsh Finance minister in the latest budget statement.

Of the new funds, £3 million will be available for 2002/3; and £5 million for 2003/4. However, a spokeswoman for the Welsh Assembly told edie that it was too earlier to say where the new funds would be spent, particularly at a time when Wales’ first national waste strategy is being finalised.

Under the auspices of the UK waste programme, Wales’ current 95% landfilling of municipal waste puts it near the bottom of the European league in waste management. This poor performance was acknowledged in the consultation document for the proposed new national strategy that is due to be published in March 2002. But ministers hope to turn this to their advantage so that, starting from a low base, Wales can “leapfrog the pack” and learn from mistakes elsewhere.

The emphasis is on establishing a sustainable integrated waste management system, with a high emphasis on waste minimisation. For instance, working on the mix between rural and urban areas to establish composting and anaerobic digestion systems, which would help farm diversification and services for organic farms.

Ambitious targets are being proposed including a 15% recycling/composting rate for municipal waste by 2003/4, rising to 40% by 2009/2010. To meet the targets, the consultation document proposed funding of an additional £40 million over the next three years. Some £3 million is available for the current year, with “indicative figures” of £13 million for 2002/3; and £24 million for 2003/4.

Responses to the recent consultation, which closed on 5 October, are currently being assessed independently. The plenary debate for the strategy, scheduled on 16 October, was postponed due to an emergency debate on the Afghan situation, but is expected to be held before the end of the current session. A spokesman pointed out that a number of modifications will also be incorporated to take account of developments in waste management technology.

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