|Pics: Guardian, Telegraph|
Not so. EU regulation in this area is about reducing landfill and packaging waste, especially rotting organic waste. To incentivise change, a landfill tax was introduced by the Conservatives in 1996, at two different rates. Currently the standard rate is £2.50 per tonne, but "active" (organic) waste is charged at £72 per tonne, rising this April to at least £80.
Local authorities' failure to meet recycling targets results in heavy expenditure on landfill tax, so to save money they have threatened to cut down on household collection frequency, and the Government compensated them to maintain the weekly service.
Germany and Austria manage recycling rates of over 60%, compared with the UK's 39% so it can be done; our national government is paying councils not to pull their finger out. Unless we want to disappear under a swelling mountain of garbage, we need to do something, whether or not we're told to do so by some supranational body.
|Pic: European Environment Agency|
I'm agin our membership of the EU because, among other reasons, I believe in democracy - and on constitutional grounds, I say we're not in the EU anyway, since we never gave our informed consent. But in the case under discussion, it suits Parliament to blame the EU for its own weakness in dealing with recalcitrant councils, whereas in other cases our Government pretends to make decisions that have already been handed down to them by Europe.
Getting out of - or as I'd prefer to say, confirming that we're not in - the EU is only the first step. The next is to clear out the Augean stables in Westminster and institute more open, responsive, responsible and competent government.
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