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Recycling targets would put councils in the red


LOCAL AUTHORITIES will face a £1.2bn funding gap as they attempt to meet government waste recycling targets by 200506, the County Surveyors Society (CSS) warned this week.

The CSS has told the Department for the Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that unless it puts £2.1bn of funding in place now, national recycling targets in 2003-04 and 2005-06 cannot be met.

The warning follows research carried out for CSS by AEA Technology using DEFRA figures which revealed that the cost to authorities of implementing measures to achieve waste management targets will reach £2.1bn between now and 2008.

'The purpose of this study is to make it clear that funding is just not there, ' said CSS and West Sussex County Council wastes and recycling services manager Jeremy Seldon.

'National government has put the obligation on local government in the form of statutory targets. But we first need the facilities, ' said Seldon.

Statutory best value performance indicators call for authorities to double the quantity of waste sent for recycling compared to 1998-99 levels by 200304, and to treble the quantity by 2005-06. By 2005 the government also wants 25% of household waste to be recycled and value to be recovered from 40% of municipal waste.

However, AEA's work calculates that the total funding available to authorities from government, the European Union and private finance is a maximum of £881M, leaving a shortfall of over £1.2bn.

The figures equate to an immediate 60% increase in local authority costs. The CSS predicts that the total cost of meeting the targets will reach £10bn by 2015.

The CSS is also concerned about major imbalances in the targets across authorities, particularly as AEA's research showed marginal costs to be much higher than initial costs.

For example, North Yorkshire's 7% recycling in 1998 translates to a reasonable 21% in 2006-06, whereas West Sussex's 12% in 1998 equates to a higher 36% in 2005-06.

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