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Waste Strategy for England (Consultation)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): I am today announcing publication of the consultation document on the review of England's Waste Strategy.

The consultation document sets out the progress made since 2000 in meeting the Government's objectives and implementing its policies with respect to waste, and consults on proposals for a revised strategy and the policies for implementing it. The consultation document is supported by a partial Regulatory Impact Assessment and Environmental Report.

We have made considerable advances since the original waste strategy was published in 2000. In particular recycling and composting of household waste has doubled in the last four years; nearly 50 per cent. of packaging waste is being recycled; and less of most types of waste is going to landfill.

But Government cannot be complacent despite these positive trends. There is much more that needs to be done to achieve our aim of reducing the amounts of waste generated and to meet our targets for diverting waste from landfill.

The approach set out in our consultation document has benefited from extensive discussions with stakeholders on the issues and options for the review. It includes a substantial shift in direction, with a broader approach and stronger emphasis on:

The consultation document reflects the need to reduce the environmental impact of waste, including reducing the impact on climate change, conserving limited natural resources and reducing risk to health and the environment from potentially harmful substances in waste.

Waste prevention stands at the top of the waste hierarchy, but only limited progress has been made to decouple waste generation from economic growth. The waste strategy review proposes measures aimed at producing less waste by putting greater emphasis on eco-design, including through more agreements with producers and increased engagement in waste prevention of businesses and householders.

For waste that is produced there is a need to recover more resources. The revised strategy aims to facilitate development of a recycling culture by shifting our thinking so that the reuse and recycling of resources is part of our everyday activities whether at home, at work or during leisure. New, more ambitious national recycling and composting targets for household waste—40 per cent. in 2010 and 50 per cent. by 2020 —are being proposed, alongside advice and information to the public and more agreements with businesses to take responsibility for their end of life products.
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Consultation has shown strong support for better integration between municipal and other waste streams, such as commercial, industrial, construction and demolition waste, which make up most of the waste produced, to gain potential economies of scale. The strategy review proposes new targets for a reduction in the percentage of commercial and industrial waste landfilled, helping small businesses to reduce and recycle their waste and a more joined up approach in managing waste from different sources facilitated by local authorities and regional bodies.

Subject to the outcome of this consultation and continuing policy development, the Government intend to publish a revised waste strategy for England later this year, setting out Government's vision and strategic direction on waste for the next 20 years, as well as the policies and actions which will be necessary to deliver the new strategy.


Afghanistan: Counter Narcotics

The Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Kim Howells): In his opening remarks to the London Conference on Afghanistan held on 31 January to 1 February, His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, described narcotics and terrorism as the two gravest threats facing Afghanistan.

Despite a 21 per cent. reduction in opium poppy cultivation in 2005 (130,000 hectares in 2003–04 to 104,000 hectares in 2004–05), the trade in Afghan drugs remains a significant challenge to Afghanistan's long-term security, development and effective governance. It undermines the stability of the region and accounts for almost 90% of the world supply of opiates.

President Karzai has taken a strong lead in the struggle against the pervasive and corrosive threat posed by the cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotics. His Government has, with the support of the UK as the key partner nation for counter narcotics, recently reviewed and updated its National Drug Control Strategy to ensure its policy approach is the right one. The Strategy was endorsed by the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Counter Narcotics and approved by President Karzai in January. The international community also expressed its strong collective support for the updated Strategy following its presentation by the Afghan Minister for Counter Narcotics, Engineer Habibullah Qaderi, during the counter narcotics session of the London Conference.

The National Drug Control Strategy represents a balanced and comprehensive approach to the drug problem. It sets out four key priorities, which I believe will help make a greater impact on the trade and sustain the reduction in cultivation we have seen in 2005. These are:

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The Strategy also notes that "where there are legal livelihoods, a credible threat of eradication is needed in order to incentivise the shift away from poppy cultivation". It also highlights the importance of raising public awareness and improving international and regional co-operation on counter narcotics.

In recognition of the serious threat that narcotics pose to the broader reconstruction effort in Afghanistan and the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach equal to the scale of the challenge, counter narcotics is also included as a cross-cutting theme in the Afghanistan Compact between the Afghan Government and the international community which was also launched at the London conference. The Compact includes high level benchmarks to measure progress in the counter narcotics effort. These benchmarks are underpinned by the more detailed planning in the National Drug Control Strategy and the interim Afghan National Development Strategy, the third of the interlocking documents launched in London.

The challenge now is implementation. In support of the Government of Afghanistan's efforts, the UK will spend £270 million over this and the next two financial years, including some £130 million on legal rural livelihoods and institutional development from the Department for International Development. In the current financial year, about 70 per cent. of the rest of UK spending has been channelled into efforts to target traffickers and disrupt the trade. We expect this to remain a top priority.

As part of the activity to date, the UK has helped to establish and provide training for the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan—the lead drug law enforcement agency, headquartered in Kabul, with seven provincial offices. The UK is also providing training for the Afghan Special Narcotics Force, an elite and highly trained force equipped to tackle high value targets across the country. We are also working with the international community to recruit and train a counter narcotics Criminal Justice Task Force of Afghan investigators, prosecutors and judges to work with the Counter Narcotics Police, to be able to push through successful drugs investigations and prosecutions.

The UK has funded the development of five drug treatment centres and is working with the Ministry of Counter Narcotics to determine how best to support activity in this area following the completion of UNODC's survey on drug use within Afghanistan late last year. We are also supporting the US led Poppy Elimination Programme (PEP) by funding the salaries of Afghan staff charged with raising awareness of the illegality of the opium industry and monitoring Governor-led eradication in priority poppy growing provinces.

From the spring, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Dr. John Reid) announced on 26 January, UK troops will be deployed to the South of Afghanistan, to Helmand province, in support of the UN authorised, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. They will work to counter
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insurgency and help the appropriate authorities build security and government institutions to continue the progress of recent years. Above all, their presence will help the Afghans create the environment in which economic development and institutional reform—both essential to the elimination of the opium industry—can take place. ISAF forces will be able to help with the provision of training to Afghan counter-narcotics forces and will, when necessary, provide support to their operations. They will also help the Afghan Government explain their policies to the Afghan people. ISAF forces will not take part in the eradication of opium poppy or in pre-planned and direct military action against the drugs trade. As President Karzai has pointed out, this is a job for the Government of Afghanistan.

The UK is working hard to increase international support, including NATO and Coalition support, for the counter narcotics campaign. It was heartening to note the collective recognition at the London Conference of the need to increase resources to help the Government of Afghanistan deliver against the ambitious, but essential, benchmarks it has set itself. Several delegations, including the US (US$2 million), Sweden (US$2 million), Korea and the UK (at least £30 million (US$52.9 million) announced contributions to the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund set up to support the strategy in London. These contributions add to those already committed by Australia, New Zealand, the EC and Estonia (US$1.5 million, US$338,000, US$18.4 million and US$50,000 respectively), giving a total of $77 million pledged to the CN Trust Fund. The Fund will bring counter narcotics funding on budget; give the Afghans greater ownership over this important agenda; and ensure that assistance is targeted as effectively as possible.

The commitment of the Government of Afghanistan and the support of the international community are starting to yield results. Progress is being made. 2005 saw the establishment of a Ministry for Counter Narcotics in Afghanistan, the passage of vital counter narcotics legislation, the conviction of over 90 drug traffickers and the seizure of some 165 tonnes of opiates. The Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan is now 500 strong and the operations of the Afghan Special Narcotics Force are starting to make an impact on the trade, forcing traffickers to shift their modus operandi, moving and storing drugs in smaller quantities.

In parallel, the National Rural Access Programme has restored thousands of kilometres of roads and renovated hundreds of irrigation systems through labour-intensive cash for work schemes aimed at providing basic employment opportunities for the rural poor. Work is also taking place to improve social protection for the poor (through the creation of social safety nets); to improve access to finance and credit; to develop better provincial development planning processes and research programmes into new crops and markets.

It will not be easy to sustain last year's reduction in cultivation. Sustainable drug elimination strategies take time. Afghanistan will continue to require the strong support of the international community and the firm commitment of its own Government. As the key partner nation for counter narcotics the UK remains committed to the challenge and to supporting the delivery of the
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National Drug Control Strategy. We believe this represents the best means of securing a sustainable reduction in the cultivation and trafficking in opium.

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