Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Borders landfill tax...why not just burn £2.9 million?

The day after our Borders garden waste collections were withdrawn on March 31 this year by our feckless council administration the landfill tax across the UK went up from £72 to £80 per metric ton. One wonders if any of the 19 elected members who voted to consign the green bins to the scrap-heap were even aware of the looming eleven per cent hike in the landfill levy.

Now we hear of elderly pensioners having to hire taxis to take their lawn clippings to the recycling centre, and there are disturbing tales of garden fires spreading out of control and damaging neighbourhood property.

It must also be a matter of considerable concern to the green lobby, not to mention those of us who are forced to sponsor Scottish Borders Council via the council tax, that the levels of landfill payments flowing out of the Newtown St Boswells coffers and into HM Revenue and Customs is increasing at a phenomenal rate...27% in two years to be precise.

Official council figures for landfill tax paid over the last three financial years are as follows: 2011/12 - £2,325,199; 2012/13 - £2,652,668; 2013/14 - £2,950,752. Scotland's waste strategy tells us those statistics should be heading in the opposite direction if ambitious recycling targets are to be met.

There will be no chance of that happening in the Borders this year given the plain daft decision to scrap the fortnightly green bin uplifts which allowed 7,526 tonnes of garden waste to be composted in 2012.

Send the equivalent of that tonnage to the Easter Langlee tip for landfill and the tax bill shoots up by another £602,000 against the saving made by abolishing the collections (£475,000) and you're into the economics of the madhouse.

SBC sent 52,861 tonnes of household waste to landfill in 2012 (55.7%), recycled 22,648 tonnes (42.8%) and recovered 777 tonnes (1.5%), according to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). The proportion recycled/composted fell by 3.5% from 46.3% in 2011 at a time when the national average recycling percentage increased by more than a full percentage point.

This year, as a direct result of the green wheelie bin fiasco Borders recycling rates are predicted to fall by five per cent to somewhere around the 37% mark, according to the council's own calculations. Meanwhile a significant number of Scottish local authorities are proudly achieving recycling rates in excess of 50%. Talk about being off message.

The nonsensical policy to place obstacles in the way of recycling as introduced by our municipal masters conjures up a vision of lorry loads of paper currency...2,950,752 crisp £1 notes to be precise...being carted to the outskirts of Galashiels before being tipped into the Easter Langlee incinerator. That would probably make about as much sense as filling out a cheque in the name of George Osborne so that an equivalent amount of Borders council taxpayers' money can be syphoned off to Westminster.

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