Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Stop the closure of Great Harwood Recycling Centre

I have been opposed to the closure of Great Harwood recycling centre and I think many of the arguments are self evident. Langho closed some years ago and Ribble valley residents were told they only had to travel to Great Harwood.

Whinney Hill, the next nearest is along Whalley Road, the busiest road in the Borough which is frequently congested. This alone will deter people. The cost will be passed on in more fly tipping and loss of recyclables. More rubbish which could be recycled will go to landfill. Great Harwood serves 3 northern towns of the borough and services are contracting towards Accrington.

Keith Ashworth however has gone one further by trying to put numbers to some of these arguments and I thought I'd publish them for debate.
I am informed that a decision to close Great Harwood Household Waste Recycling Centre was taken in February 2011 as part of the County Council's pledge to reduce costs. The review period of this decision closes at 5pm on Friday the 30th September when comments will be considered.
The claim was made that the 3,350 tons of waste could be collected by the district council by doorstep collections.
If all vehicles carried 50 kg of waste it would require 67,000 journeys to the Altham site. Fuel costs for the residents would be an additional £167,500. (50p per mile for a 5 mile journey.)
The point was made that all fly tipping was done exclusively by businesses who had to pay for disposal, and so this would not be increased by closure of the site.
The conclusion is that there would be no increased cost to the district councils as a result of fly tipping. I seriously question this assumption. If fly tipping became more widespread, it would result in a considerable increase in council costs in collecting the waste, and none would be sorted and recycled.
The replacement of transport by Skips, by in excess of 67 thousand journeys by private car, (it is not possible to put 50 Kg of branches in a car), would further damage the environment, cause considerable traffic congestion on an already very congested road, and be a consideration of the willingness of conscientious residents to spend the greatly increased time needed for the disposal.
I consider the closure would reduce the cost to Lancashire County Council, in exchange for a considerable greater cost to the District Council, the residents, and business.

Its a strong argument. I do not think there is any merit in County's argument that this can be collected by doorstep collections. They are tiny boxes. Great Harwood recycling centre handles bulky household waste and large volumes of wood, metal, plastics and cardboard. All pre-separated.

My correspondence bag is filling up with people probing for a real answer, a justifiable answer. Here is one such letter.
Dear Mr. Jones,
I write to register my concern and objection to the proposed closure of the Great Harwood Household Waste Recycling Centre.

The centre has provided Great Harwood with a facility which has benefited the entire community and been an important factor since it opened in the regeneration and “tidying up” of a town having to make the transition over the years from its industrial past with factory closures etc. to the present time of trying to attract new industry and enterprise in the shadow of its larger neighbour Accrington.

Over these years the recycling options have increased giving the people of Great Harwood and district the possibility to recycle so much more than appears to be the case in some surrounding districts/ authorities. In fact it is one of the best I've seen and I note that at present 71% of the rubbish collected at the facility is recycled, a performance that must be the envy of some of those others. It also provides recycling for items not accepted by bin collection so why close it, it doesn't make sense. In fact this I feel has been a factor in the “tidying up” I mentioned earlier. People with awkward items now take those to this facility rather than leaving them lying around often outside properties or in back lanes or fly tipping. Its closure will reverse this process, particularly fly tipping which, when it happens on the lay-bys on Blackburn Old Road, gives a very bad impression to those visitors coming into Great Harwood.

Responsible citizens may be prepared to make the effort to journey with increased fuel usage to another facility but the irresponsible will revert to fly tipping and at what cost to clear up?

The alternative at Altham has a steep access road, difficult in winter, never mind also having to tolerate the appalling noxious fumes eminating from the landfill there! I 'm constantly amazed how the nearby residents are able to tolerate it and I personally have to close car windows and switch off its air conditioning when passing along the A680 Whalley Road or the M65 when the wind is coming from the direction of the landfill! Are these fumes really within guideline limits? If Great Harwood is closed I would rather travel to Clitheroe than be forced to breathe the noxious fumes at Altham.

Has the short term saving involved been weighed against this long term cost of clean up. Is it not short sighted to sacrifice the ongoing benefit this facility has given Great Harwood at the altar of budget cuts?

Why when we are being constantly told of the priority which needs to be given to recycle to meet our commitment to E.U. targets and to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill are we closing such a busy successful facility valued so much by Great Harwood residents. Councillors and M.P.s should be doing what they can to protect it.
This is simply a cost cutting exercise.