One of Spain's major environmental problems, the existence of thousands of illegal urban waste dumps, is to be tackled under a draft national urban waste plan announced by environment minister Isabel Tocino in a recent parliamentary intervention. Under the plan, the approximately 3,700 unlicensed waste disposal sites currently operating in Spain will be closed down by the beginning of 2005. In addition, authorised landfill sites are to brought up to standards set down in the forthcoming EU directive on waste landfilling and all waste incineration plants will be required to produce energy. Other targets set by the plan include a 10% reduction in packaging waste by the end of June 2000 and the introduction of selective waste collection in all urban areas with over 5,000 inhabitants by the beginning of next year. According to the environment ministry, further details will not be available until discussions have taken place with the regional and municipal governments largely responsible for waste-collection and disposal and until the plan has officially been approved by the council of ministers. However, a spokeswoman confirmed that "central government would be meeting a significant part of the cost of financing the initiative". All the proposals contained within the plan follow the guidelines for the reduction and disposal of urban waste contained in a 1997 law on packaging and packaging waste and a 1998 law on waste disposal.
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