Anger as green waste is set for incinerator
CALLS have been made for the man in charge of the borough’s rubbish and recycling to resign in a row over the scrapping of the green waste collection.
Ashford Borough Council’s executive decided to stop collecting garden waste separately from rubbish in a cost-cutting move.
Instead of composting it, the council will send green waste collected from homes in Ashford and Tenterden for incineration at Allington near Maidstone.
The decision prompted Richard Boden, who runs WyeCycle which collects recycling in Wye and Brook, to say he has lost faith in Cllr Neil Bell (Con), the portfolio holder for waste management.
Mr Boden said: “I’ve been co-ordinating WyeCycle for 20 years now and I can’t think of any decision the borough council has made in all that time that’s made me so angry because of its complete lack of environmental and economic rationale.
“They say they will collect wet bags of garden waste and that’s going to generate electricity.
“I would love Cllr Bell to explain how it is of environmental benefit to take garden waste on a 50-mile round trip and set fire to it.”
In response, Cllr Bell defended the decision: “The waste is going less far to Allington than it would have been going to the composting plant at Hawkhurst.
“So in environmental terms I think it is better to take it to Allington than Hawkhurst. Certainly using it to fuel Allington’s waste-to-energy plant to turn into electricity is putting it to very good use.”
Mr Boden is also annoyed that the council has not been to see WyeCycle’s work during the 20 years it has been running. He said: “I find it incredible that there is one of the longest running, most successful waste reduction projects in the country in Ashford borough and the councillor who is in charge of waste and recycling for the Ashford borough doesn’t come out to see us.
“He would learn more in an hour with us in Wye and Brook than he’ll learn from however many hours in the council chamber debating it with his political colleagues.”
Cllr Bell said: “The prime reason I haven’t visited is that I haven’t been invited.”
But he has, however, visited the Allington plant.
He said: “I spent a day going round that. It’s very wrong to portray it as an incinerator, it’s much more than that. Residents should be encouraged that our residual waste, including the green waste, is used to produce electricity and, in fact, there’s a number of recycling procedures which take place at Allington as well.”
The decision to stop recycling green waste was a financial one, as the cash-strapped council attempts to save £300,000.
But Mr Boden warns that the taxpayer will still foot the bill.
He said: “The gate fee for Allington comes out of our council tax.”
WyeCycle’s solution is to charge people for green waste collection and the group thinks the council should do the same. Mr Boden says it is the fairest way.
He said: “Those who choose to home compost don’t pay and those who choose to put it out for collection do pay.
“By telling everyone to put it out for the bin men it means everyone who home composts still has to pay for other people’s green waste to be taken to Allington.”
Cllr Bell feels during a recession
“Lots of farmers around Tenterden would jump at the chance to compost their stuff locally if only the council would make efforts to work with them.”
Cllr Bell conceded that Hawkhurst was closer to Tenterden than Allington, though reiterated that savings needed to be made.
He said: “The real driver behind the change is firstly that the council is short of money and needs to make savings, and secondly whether we should charge for recycling or bring the service to an end.”
What do you think? Write to Kentish Express, 34-36 North Street, Ashford, Kent TN24 8JR or email kentishexpress@thekmgroup .co.uk
Allington incinerator, where Ashford’s green waste will be taken