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HOLDING OFF: Recycling plans waiting for government cash

HOLDING OFF: Recycling plans waiting for government cash

The government’s Environment Bill is currently progressing through Parliament

County bosses are holding off on plans for a major overhaul of recycling and bin collections in the hope of securing more government cash.

Earlier this year, Northumberland County Council praised the success of a glass pick-up scheme trialled at select locations.

But while families elsewhere have been promised the kerbside service will be extended to their homes eventually, they face a wait as ministers finalise national targets.

“We’re waiting for the government to come forward with its new Environment Bill,” said Glen Sanderson, the leader of the county council.

“What I would not want to do is spend a quarter million pounds on a new type of recycling initiative, only to find that there are grants available from the government to do exactly the same thing, but because we’ve gone ahead and done it we aren’t eligible.

“We’re talking about taxpayers money here, so we certainly don’t want to waste taxpayers money unnecessarily.”

The government’s Environment Bill is currently progressing through Parliament and is expected to set targets for reducing waste and increasing recycling, as well as added protections for wildlife and measures to stop sewage being dumped in rivers.

Currently, most eco-conscious households have to take glass waste to tips or one of more than 170 smaller recycling sites throughout the county for it to be recycled.

About 4,000 households in Morpeth, Bedlington, Hexham, Alnwick and Lesbury have been included in Northumberland’s kerbside glass collections pilot, which started in November last year.

And although brains behind the initiative have warned data collected may have been skewed by changes in habits during the coronavirus pandemic, they added this is unlikely to hamper its wider rollout, with surveys suggesting it has been well received by families so far.

More than 200 tonnes have been collected every month, at an average of about 71 kg per household, a figure which would put Northumberland among the top performing quarter of all English local authorities.

But the performance also led some health experts to warn it could indicate a rise in ‘risky’ drinking in the county.

Cllr Sanderson added he intended to lobby ministers on the issue when he attends the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, due to start on Sunday, October 3.

He said: “I want to wait and see what the Environment Bill actually says to us and what opportunities are available.

“I think we will see more recycling of a greater variety of materials within the next two years.

“[But] because of the, the, the deep financial commitment it’s going to take, we do need support from the government and I think the government is as keen as we are to see the see these sort of measures put in place.”


Words: James Harrison, Local Demcoracy Reporter

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