Waste policy gets go-ahead


SURREY County Council has given its full backing to a new waste policy that includes incineration as a way of dealing with mounting rubbish.

The strategy is to tackle the ever-growing rate of waste in Surrey and was given the go ahead by all councillors at a meeting on Tuesday.

In his forward for the policy, Executive member for the environment Councillor David Davis explained that top of Surrey's five-point rubbish agenda is working with borough councils, residents and businesses to minimise waste at source.

"We need to maximise recycling, re-use and composting,' he said. 'We need to find ways to dispose of residual waste so we can move rapidly away from landfill, which is at the bottom of the hierarchy of policies for waste management.

   “We cannot afford to rule out any feasible technology, including energy from waste via incineration.”

However he told the Surrey Advertiser  that although incineration is the cheapest, best proven and, environmentally sound" solution, it could be a long way off.

"We will be keeping waste management under constant review," he said.  "It would take several years before we had Incineration in this county.  It would mean identifying a site, processing planning - which would almost certainly go to appeal or be called in by the Secretary of State - and it would have to be commissioned."

Waste levels across the country are growing by about 3% a year.  Surrey's 11 borough authorities have responsibility for doorstep recycling as part of rubbish collection duties.  Although some aspire to achieve a 60% recycling rate, the level across the county stands at about 21%.

"The Cost of recycling seems to be rising," said Cllr Davis.  Each bit of new recycling costs more than the last and I’m not sure council taxpayers will be prepared to fund recycling on this scale if there are cheaper options.”

Finding new ways of dealing with rubbish is a government drive. A spokesman for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) explained that, from April, each council, will be charged an extra £3 for every tonne buried, as part of a programme known as landfill tax.  “This level is set to rise by at least £3 per tonne in the years thereafter, on the way to a medium to long term rate of £35 per tonne." he added.

Money generated from landfill tax gets directed into various schemes, all aimed at better ways of dealing with waste. One of the projects being managed by DEFRA through tax money is the Sustainable Waste Management Programme, which works on waste minimisation, recycling and composting.