Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Protect Kent on plans to close KCC Recycling Centre

KCC’s Rubbish Proposals

Jamie Weir, PR & Events Manager, Protect Kent 
19th March 2012
Did you see Kent County Council’s public consultation on their household waste recycling centre (HWRC) service which opened at the end of last year? Better still, were you one of the 3,500 people that responded to it by the deadline of 9th February? Most importantly, do you know that based on the results of the consultation, KCC are proposing to close the household waste recycling centres at Richborough and Hawkinge? If your answers to these questions are no, we (Protect Kent) are not in the least surprised!

For the past year, since April 2011, KCC have been conducting a review of HWRCs in Kent.  Providing and managing these sites is a statutory requirement of KCC under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The review of the current network of 19 sites across Kent forms part of KCC’s on-going cost-cutting exercise.

As part of the review process, KCC’s own Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee asked for a public consultation on the draft proposals. The consultation opened in December at a time when everyone’s mind was focussed on preparing for Christmas. It was so poorly advertised that few people knew of its existence (as evidenced by only 3,500 responses from a Kent population of over 1.4 million). It was based on a biased questionnaire constructed to give the answers that best suited the Waste Management Section’s aims. It suggests that very few people will be affected by the closures (for example, only 150 homes in the Sandwich area). This is obviously a significant departure from reality as Sandwich alone has a population of around 7000!

In common with people from those communities around Hawkinge and Richborough who will lose out from the withdrawal of this service, Protect Kent are alarmed that KCC are even considering such backward steps.

Andrew Ogden, Campaigns Manager for Protect Kent said:

“KCC should be encouraging even greater efforts by the public to recycle their waste, building towards a sustainable future. Closing these sites gives the wrong message to local residents and reduces the incentive for them to manage and dispose of their waste in a sensible way.”

Andrew continued: “We are also concerned that this move could lead to a greater incidence of fly-tipping in the rural areas around these sites when closed. Fly-tipping is anti-social, harmful to wildlife, often causes pollution, and is a significant eyesore in our beautiful Kent countryside. Of course, KCC are not responsible for clearing fly-tipped waste – this falls on the local authority or the unlucky land-owner – so the closure of Hawkinge and Richborough HWRCs will be of no disbenefit to them.”

At today’s meeting of the Cabinet, KCC’s Members deferred making a final decision on the recommendations of the HWRC Review until the full Council meeting on 29th March. Local pressure groups have welcomed this delay, seeing it as an opportunity to lobby Members further and get them to appreciate the strength of support for keeping the sites open.

Protect Kent will be backing this action and seeking further opinion from KCC on issues such as potentially opening the sites at weekends only, limiting the wastes received to only the commonest types and whether the guideline 20 minutes maximum travel time to alternative sites is both  practical and realistic for affected local residents.

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