Rubbish is Surrey’s burning issue.
SURREY is running out of space for its rubbish. With three million tonnes produced in the county every year and recycling still not having sufficient impact, landfill sites are near to overflowing.
The county is lagging behind its neighbours in addressing the seriousness of the situation and council tax payers could face hefty bills as the Government is threatening to fine local authorities from next year if they exceed new landfill limits.
In a bid to find a solution Surrey County Council has started public consultation on a new draft planning framework for waste. It runs until 12 December 2005 and includes a list of options the most controversial of which is the creation of incineration plants across the county.
Hampshire already has three plants and according to council member and environment spokesman David Munro, some form of incineration process will be inevitable.
'We are working on a hierarchy of solutions with the encouragement of recycling a the top but other measures will also be necessary and thermal treatment plants are amongst them.'
Currently only 25 per cent of the county's waste is recycled but Mr Munro says the aim is to increase this figure to 50 per cent with a target of 60-80 per cent by 2016.
"It is absolutely clear that in Surrey far too much waste is going to landfill and that must stop,' says Mr Munro.
Thermal treatment is widely considered the most environmentally efficient method of dealing with waste after recycling. At present there are 15 plants operating in the UK but in other parts of Europe it is far more widely used.
Energy con be produced from burning waste. A typical plant could provide enough energy to heat 8,000 homes for a year. But the plants tend to be large with tall chimneys and conservationists fear their visual impact on the landscape. Also the fine fly ash produced by the process is toxic and has to be landfilled as hazardous waste.
In Surrey seven sites have been earmarked for a plant but no indication has been made of the exact number needed. The preferred site for the first is the Clockhouse Brickworks in Capel, near Dorking as it falls outside Greenbelt land. Other locations under scrutiny are in Guildford, Woking, Leatherhead, Trumps Farm, Longcross and Wisley.