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Gove’s reticence on DEFRA opposition

January 29, 2018

Credit: CIWM Journal

During a recent Parliamentary debate, Gove failed to confirm or deny DEFRA’s opposition to the EU’s 2035 65 percent recycling target.

According to Rob Cole of Resource, while being questioned in the House of Commons on 25 January 2018, Environment Secretary Michael Gove “failed to deny that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has been actively opposing a 65 percent recycling target by 2035 set by the EU’s Circular Economy Package (CEP)”.

Gove was questioned by Labour’s environment spokesperson, Sue Hayman MP, “over claims made by Greenpeace’s journalistic arm Unearthed” that diplomats from three EU nations had revealed that UK officials were “quite blunt” in voicing their opposition to the recycling target. The Environment Secretary “sidestepped the opportunity” to confirm the claims, saying,

“We are anxious to make sure that, across the EU, we have the right targets. One of the flaws with the EU system, as I acknowledged earlier, is that because of its reliance on measuring through weight, it sometimes incentivises the wrong approaches.

“I am confident that our own country has gone further than the European Union has requested or suggested on everything from banning microplastics to looking at taxes on single-use plastics and, indeed, introducing the charge on plastic bags.

“In all those areas, we have shown ?that we have gone further and faster than the EU, and of course that is the Government’s ambition for a truly green Brexit.”

Defra has also issued a restrained response to the claims set out in Unearthed, with a spokesperson saying,

 “The government will make a decision on its vote following close scrutiny of the proposals, which are still provisional.

“Our recycling rates are rising, less waste is now sent to landfill and separate food waste collections are increasing, but as set out in the Clean Growth Strategy and 25 Year Environment Plan, we are working with industry to improve the nation’s recycling rates further. When we leave the EU we will have the opportunity to strengthen and enhance our environmental standards even further by delivering a Green Brexit.”

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