LOCAL AUTHORITIES this week admitted that they are each resigned to paying out £14M in fi nes annually within the next fi ve years for failing to meet stringent new targets for household waste going to landfill.
The targets have been set in line with the European Landfill Directive. This requires a 75% reduction in the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) going to landfill by 2010 compared with 1995 levels. The targets came into force earlier this month and get tougher each year (News last week).
Failure to comply will result in fi nes at the rate of £150 per tonne of household waste landfi lled above target. Councils face paying a large proportion of this because planned waste treatment plants are not yet ready.
Bedfordshire County Council is procuring a £450M privately fi nced waste management deal, but the earliest commissioning date is 2009.
'We can't guarantee that any of our planned facilities will be ready by 2010, ' said Bedfordshire waste services manager John Gilford. 'This year and next we should be OK, but by year three we'll be in a penalty situation when fi es will run into millions of pounds. And then tens of millions of pounds after that.' CE energy board vice chairman and waste management consultant with financial advisor Grant Thornton, Nigel Mattravers, said that fines of up to £14M would be typical by 2010.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council told NCE that it would probably pay fi nes of £825,000 at the end of this year for landfi ng 5,500t over its allowance.
But it is fuming that the targets do not take into account planned population growth.
'Because of the increase in the number of households in our area, waste production is growing by 4% every year - twice that predicted by the government, ' said East Riding head of environmental services Trish Dalby.
Bedfordshire faces similar problems, with 90,000 new homes to be accommodated by 2025.
'The targets are set as if we're a normal county, but we'll have the equivalent of a new town being built without any extra landfill allowance, ' said Gilford.
He is in talks with the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency to get the fines relaxed.