Council faces £1.1m in fines for missing recycling targets
Rory Sheehan, local democracy reporter
A Welsh council is waiting to hear whether it will have to stump up £1.1 million in fines for missing recycling targets.
At the start of the year the council was looking at switching from fortnightly to three-weekly bin collections in a bid to improve recycling levels and meet performance targets.
Councils need to achieve 70 per cent recycling by 2024-25, which Flintshire was close to hitting in 2019 but there has been a decline since, with the authority achieving just 60 per cent in 2021.
Flintshire Council chiefs have previously been hauled in front of the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change Julie James to explain the shortfall.
The issue of the potential fines was raised by Whitford Cllr Chris Dolphin at the council’s environment scrutiny meeting this week, during a discussion about pressures on the Streetscene budget.
Cllr Dolphin said: “Have we received the infraction fines, what were they and how much are we still expected to pay?
“This committee dealt with black bins many months ago, it was going to come back to this committee and it still hasn’t done. Shouldn’t that be on the list for review?”
Earlier this year a proposal to move black bin collections to three-weekly proved unpopular, being called-in by Independent group opposition councillors, which led to the Labour-led cabinet giving residents four months to show they could improve their recycling habits.
In August, the council confirmed recycling performance had improved although still looks likely to fall short of the targets set by the Welsh Government.
In response to Cllr Dolphin’s questions, Streetscene chief officer Katie Wilby said that after missing targets two years in a row, the threat of fines totalling more than £1m still looms over the authority.
“In terms of the infraction fines, no we’ve not heard yet”, she said. “It’s still being reviewed by the Welsh Government and the Minister.
“In terms of the amount, from recollection for 2021-22 it’s £663,000 in total, and for 2022-23 it’s around £470,000, in excess of £1.1m altogether if Welsh Government choose to levy the fine.”
She added: “It’s currently under review. We submitted an action plan over the summer to Welsh Government and they provided us with some feedback and instructed us to work with local partnerships and WRAP Cymru (waste and resources action programme) on revising that action plan. They want us to do some more work around it.
“It’s not an efficiency (black bins), it’s mitigation against that infraction fine and the purpose of reviewing black bin collections is to ensure that we achieve the recycling targets of 70 per cent by next year.
“It’s not a saving, it’s not an efficiency.”
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