Rubbish disposal faces major review

WASTE bosses will have to change the way they dispose of rubbish if they are to escape Government fines and stop their share of the council tax soaring.

WASTE bosses will have to change the way they dispose of rubbish if they are to escape Government fines and stop their share of the council tax soaring.

Suffolk County Council announced yesterday that over the next six years it will have to reduce its reliance on landfill sites because of new European-led legislation that gives Whitehall the power to fine local authorities that fail to move towards a greener alternative.

As a result, council chiefs are set to start a public consultation on April 4 to consider the future of waste provision in the county with the aim to slowly phase out landfill and move towards eco-friendly energy incinerators or mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) plants.

They warn that if nothing is done then it could cost an extra £6.7m in fines by 2009/10 and an extra £15.5m by 2012/13.

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That could see the waste section of the average Band D household council tax bill rise by £27 in 2009/10 and by £63 in 2012/13.

Eddy Alcock, portfolio holder for environment, waste and economic development: said: “The bottom line is because of the new European legislation we have got to change the way we dispose of our waste and we have to find the most efficient, most economic and most environmentally friendly solution to the problem.

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“We are already among one of the top recyclers in the country and we will be looking to increase this as a way to manage waste levels but we need to find ways to dispose of the residue that is left over other than dumping it in landfill because we will face expensive fines which will see a potentially huge rise in council tax.

“Apart from the financial costs there is also the environmental impact of landfill because it does have a detrimental effect - producing methane and carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming and pollution called leachate that can leak into the ground and effect the water table.”

There are currently 17 landfill sites in the county taking inert wastes and 10 taking non-inert, such as municipal, industrial and commercial waste.

The Government aim is to reduce waste buried in landfill by 25,000 tonnes in 2009/10 and by 75,000 tonnes in 2012/13 - at present Suffolk buries 260,000 tonnes per year.

Bryn Griffiths, assistant director for environment services, said the consultation would involve Suffolk Waste Partnership, borough and district councils and members of the public.

“We are going to be undertaking a major review so we can look at solutions and see what's cost effective, environmentally acceptable and technically feasible,” he said.

“The clear message we want to get through is that we don't want to make the decisions just within the county council but by consulting as many people as we can so we are aware of what the people of Suffolk think is important.”

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