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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 06:36 GMT
Councils struggle with green targets
Landfill site
Too much waste is still going to landfill
Scottish councils are struggling to reach national targets on recycling, according to the Accounts Commission.

In its latest report, the public spending watchdog concludes that the progress made is "disappointing".

Its report shows that councils did not reduce the amount of waste they sent to landfill sites last year.

The Scottish Executive welcomed the "progress" made but opposition parties called on ministers to intervene.

In 2002/03 councils sent 2.8m tonnes of waste to landfill - the same amount as in the previous year.

The proportion of waste recycled or composted by councils was 9.6% - 2% more than the previous year.

Improvements needed

The report reveals wide variations across councils in the amount of waste recycled - from 24.3% in Angus to just 3.5% in Highland.

These statistics, said the commission, are problematic given that councils are expected to reduce the amount going to landfill by 300,000 tonnes over the next two years.

But the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) said its members were working on longer term targets.

Accounts Commission chairman, Alastair MacNish, said: "The latest figures are disappointing. Unless councils do more to make recycling easy and convenient they will not reach the target of 25% of waste being recycled by 2006.

The Scottish Executive must step in now to ensure the targets that they set for local councils are met by the agreed time
Roseanna Cunningham, SNP
"We need to see marked improvements in waste recycling and composting levels in the next few years."

Deputy Environment Minister Allan Wilson conceded that "landfill figures are too high and recycling too low".

"That is why we announced a major investment of over 230m to tackle this.

"The Audit Scotland figures predate this major investment which has already begun to make a major impact in local areas."

Mr Wilson cited progress in North Ayrshire where the recycling and composting rate increased from 5.8% in 2001/02 to 12.3% in 2002/03.

He also mentioned similar levels of success in South Ayrshire and North Lanarkshire.

Friends of the Earth want more roadside recycling
But the Scottish National Party (SNP) said the Accounts Commission figures showed clearly that councils needed help.

The party's environment spokesperson, Roseanna Cunningham, said: "While it is clear that local councils are making some attempt to increase the amount of waste that is recycled each year, the fear is that they will not meet the set target by the 2006 deadline.

"The Scottish Executive must step in now to ensure the targets that they set for local councils are met by the agreed time because if they don't, people may start to question the minister's ability to improve the environment in Scotland."

Cosla's waste spokesman Russell Imrie said: "It is unfortunate that the finger is pointed solely at councils who have no statutory duty with respect to recycling.

'No quick fix'

"Councils are only part of a larger picture and have traditional expertise, mainly in waste collection systems.

"There is no quick fix. Councils are thinking long term and have ambitious plans for well beyond 2006, which rely on accessing funding from the Scottish Executive's strategic waste fund."

The Scottish Greens lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament deploring the disappointing figures and calling on the executive to adopt "zero waste" as policy.

Shiona Baird MSP said: "I am appalled that none of the targets set by the executive are being met.

"Valuable resources in Scotland are being wasted. The executive should move immediately to adopt a policy of zero waste with timetables, in order to stem the flow of waste being produced.

"Zero Waste would boost Scotland's self sufficiency, economic security and deliver more green jobs."

BBC Scotland's Louise Batchelor
"There's been no reduction in waste going to landfill"

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