WASTE REVIEW: Minister Bob Neill slams past policy for failure to engage

In a damning verdict on Labour's record on waste policy, Communities Minister Bob Neill said yesterday (15 June) that there had been a failure to win over the public on waste and drive up recycling rates.

Speaking on Localism and the Big Society at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management’s annual conference in London, the minister lambasted the previous administration’s use of taxes, restrictions and fines in collection services as a means to increase recycling.

He said that the Coalition took a fundamentally different view and would work with local residents to ‘go green’ by using incentives. “Under the previous administration there was a failure to recognise that families pay about £120 a month on average in council tax and for many people one of their most visible services is their refuse service.

“For £120 a month, which is a chunk of money for a lot of people, they are entitled to expect a comprehensive recycling and rubbish service.”

The minister identified three “corrosive issues” under Labour – a “stealth” approach to household bin fines, bin snooping and bin taxing. He said that the DCLG and Defra had worked closely on the Waste Review to identify ways to deliver the services that local residents wanted.

Rather than penalise residents that made genuine mistakes with their household waste disposal, he said the Coalition would work with local authorities to introduce a new harm to local amenities test, which would target the most serious offenders.

The minister said that fixed penalty notices would only be used against the “neighbours from hell” who deliberately and persistently abused the system.

He added that the Government would repeal the powers of entry into domestic premises to stop bin snooping. The Coalition would also switch from criminal to civil penalties because the previous dispensation was disproportionate.

In a further move, the Government would also be scrapping plans to introduce pay as you throw bin taxes with provisions in the Localism Bill.

“The reason we are doing that is because we think that would have unfairly penalised families who produce more waste,” Neill argued. “Large families may well produce more waste but I don’t think they should automatically be penalised for that.”

The minister cited reward schemes as a way to incentivise local residents and called on local authorities to be more entrepreneurial in waste collection.

Nick Warburton

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