This week's column is a load of old rubbish

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the most distressing aspects of spending time abroad is the absence of news from back home. It is fair to say that if something important happens, such as a member of the Royal Family sneezing, it will be reported in full on the Continent. However, the minutiae of life in Blighty tends to pass you by.

I can therefore recite at will the entire Belgian World Cup squad, or "Les Diables" as they are disturbingly known, but am at a loss when it comes to the proposal in the UK to level a tax on our garbage.

I have to admit I am on distinctly dodgy ground here. But somewhere in among the Walloons and the Flems I believe I detected mutterings about a proposal to levy some kind of penalty on the those who indiscriminately accumulate rubbish.

This sounds like a thoroughly good idea to me. I have long questioned why it is that the mountain of bin bags which emerges in my street each Friday is so large. I also question why such strange things are left for our waste recycling consultants to remove.

Before you become concerned about my nocturnal habits, I can assure you that I do not spend Thursday evenings rummaging through my neighbours' bin bags. That is a job I leave to the foxes who congregate at dusk at the top of the street preparing for a night of pillaging. Foxes, as you may be aware, are a cunning bunch. If challenged about their plans for the evening, they always claim they are about to raid the chicken coop. They all start to hum that old song about "The fox went out one chilly night" and look as if they could kill for a chicken. No sooner has the inquisitor turned his back than they are down among the bin bags chewing and gnawing until they alight upon anything which bears a passing resemblance to food.

As a consequence, come the dawn, the contents of the neighbourhood's refuse is littered around the street for all to admire.

The process of redistributing the garbage is then finished off by the advance party of the waste recycling consultancy who, ignoring the fact that bin bags now have gaping holes where the bottom of the bag used to be, merrily leaves a trail of rubbish as he turns several small piles of bin bags into one big pile.

Presumably this trail of litter will allow him to find his way safely back to a house should he get lost on his way to the big pile, and therefore I must not complain. All I can say is that between the foxes and the waste recycling consultants not a lot of rubbish actually gets into their waste recycling transportation vehicle - or bin lorry.

Clearly it would represent cruelty to animals if taxes were imposed on the guilty parties, and the foxes would not be too pleased either. Better then to tax the garbage at source. If there was a cost involved then I am sure people would take much more care about their rubbish and recycle with greater diligence.

This has to be equitable and better for the environment. It would also favour people like myself who always forget to put out the rubbish and therefore keep it in the spare bedroom. If garbage were taxed at the moment I would be due a rebate of some proportion.

I am keen to learn more about these proposals and plan to engage our waste recycling consultants about the issue when next they are around. I will keep you posted but if there is anything more substantial behind this suggestion then I suspect a campaign from the Property Party will not be far behind.