Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Fifth Report


  I refer to the memoranda which have been submitted to the Environment Sub-committee on the subject of "Delivering Sustainable Waste Management".

  I appreciate that the time has passed for submission of formal written evidence. However, following the recent submissions of oral evidence, I felt I must write in my capacity as Chairman of the Borough Council's Environmental Services Committee and support the submissions of the Capel Action Group and the Planning Officers' Society.

  Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and our neighbour in Mole Valley have been consulted by the Surrey County Council on two proposed energy from waste plants in our areas. In addition, we have been consulted by the County Council on their latest Waste Local Plan. As a result the Borough Council has gone on record on waste management issues in the following terms:

    —  This Council strongly supports the concept of geographical equity, whereby the responsibility for dealing with waste must rest with the local level, in order for the waste hierarchy to work. There is no incentive for households to minimise their waste creation and, reuse, recycle or compost, if waste is transported outside the locality for unseen disposal, and where the real impacts of that disposal are imposed on residents of other locations.

    —  The residents of Reigate & Banstead have already demonstrated their commitment to meeting the Government's recycling targets, currently achieving a rate of some 23 per cent of domestic waste and a participation rate of 65 per cent of households in the Council's door to door scheme. The Council would, therefore, support the inclusion of targets for recycling, recovering and composting within any waste management plan, but these targets must be progressively more challenging and be based on some form of incentive.

    —  The Council would strongly support the inclusion in a waste management strategy of the concept of environmental capacity and the imposition of limits to further waste disposal facilities in areas already subject to our current activities. However, the concept would need careful definition, in particular in relation to traffic movements, and the Plan would need to address how the County would ensure that capacity limits are not breached.

    —  Recent Government Guidance suggests that waste disposal cannot be considered solely on a county by county basis and Local Planning Authorities will need to give consideration to the regional dimension. There are currently two proposals for EfW plants (one with planning consent), adjacent to Surrey's county boundaries, which may well affect disposal patterns within Surrey. Regional agreements must first be addressed, to avoid either unnecessary provision of facilities or locations which perpetuate or increase waste transportation.

    —  The Council supports the application of Best Practical Environmental Option (BPEO). However, this will mean that many more alternative disposal options and locations will need to be tested, particularly including facilities higher up the waste hierarchy. BPEO will need to be applied, both for proposals within Waste Local Plans and for subsequent planning applications as circumstances will change over the life of those Plans.

    —  This Council does not support the use of Green Belt land for major new waste disposal facilities.

    —  This Council supports the identification of specific sites within Waste Local Plans which would allow proper consideration of alternatives against the application of the proximity principle, BPEO and the waste hierarchy. From experience, the private sector will select sites mainly on commercial grounds. Reliance on a planning application-led approach is unlikely to lead to an optimum strategic fit for major proposals.

    —  The Council supports the inclusion of challenging targets for inclusion in Waste Local Plans and specific policy guidance on the application of the BPEO. Such applications must ensure that preference is given to recycling facilities, both in terms of capacity and earlier implementation to ensure that less environmentally friendly methods of disposal are restricted to the minimum amount necessary at any one period of time. This may well require some phasing to be included within the policy guidance.

    —  This Council supports the application of the proximity principle, and sees merit in a sequential approach as a policy tool to assist in its implementation, together with specific site identification.

    —  Traffic congestion and its impacts of delay and pollution are among the most serious problems affecting the quality of life in Surrey. The addition of even one more HGV is unacceptable, and policies and proposals need to be created which actually reduce movement. The use of rail needs to be given much greater prominence. Routing strategies for HGV movement also need to be incorporated. However, the most important aspect will involve the optimum location of sites for new facilities.

    —  The Council supports a more flexible approach to the restoration of former mineral workings, with the creation of differing forms of landscape and habitat areas. However, the question of environmental quality must be addressed from the outset. Applications must be supported by appropriate schemes, and robust conditions and legal agreements applied to any consents.

Councillor M H C Buttery
Chairman of the Environmental Services Committee

November 2000

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