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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 June 2006, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Rubbish collection 'may be taxed'
A refuse collection lorry
Households could be charged for how much rubbish they produce
Charging householders for the amount of rubbish collected from their homes is being considered by the government as part of proposed council tax reforms.

Sir Michael Lyons, who is conducting an inquiry into the future of the tax, told the Times newspaper he was looking at environmental taxes.

These would be paid in addition to council tax to make the cost of services more visible.

The plan raises the prospect of waste being weighed by refuse collectors.

The proposals could allow councils to charge residents for the amount of waste they produce, and other possibilities include charging less to greener households and those who separate their waste.

Sir Michael told the paper: "I am clear that if people want more services, want to tackle difficult problems like congestion, environmental sustainability and water quality... you can't just tackle those problems and say you don't want to pay more tax."

Sir Michael also said he was studying other European countries which already operate charges for waste that range between 25p and 50p a kilo.

Increased bills

Local authorities are currently trying to hit ambitious government targets for recycling household waste.

There have been persistent claims that Sir Michael planned to increase council tax bills for householders who improved their homes with extensions, or for those with a picturesque view or bigger gardens.

Earlier this year, he confirmed plans were being considered that would see the wealthiest homeowners make a "bigger contribution".

Sir Michael was commissioned by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Chancellor Gordon Brown in July 2004 to undertake an independent inquiry into local government funding.

His remit was extended last September to include the role of town halls.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "Sir Michael will be giving his final report to ministers at the end of the year and ministers will consider all his proposals."

And Dr Michael Warhurst, a senior waste and resources campaigner for Friends of the Earth, told BBC News: "As long as people are given a really good recycling service, then the idea of charging them on the basis of the waste left behind, rather than just charging everything through council tax, we think is a very effective method of both boosting recycling but also encouraging people to really try to avoid generating so much waste in the first place."

How waste is treated at a recycling plant

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