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"High fuel costs" threaten food collection plans

The future of a Suffolk food waste collection scheme was hanging in the balance due to high fuel costs, as MRW went to press.

However, those close to the planned scheme believe other factors are behind the change of heart and Suffolk County Council (SCC) has been criticised for a lack of vision and support of the scheme.

Under the Suffolk Waste Partnership (SWP) deal, councils had concluded such collections offered great environmental benefits. One partnership member, Mid Suffolk District Council, has already agreed to go ahead.

However, another member Babergh District Council is reconsidering plans because it said increased fuel costs were unaffordable. If Babergh pull out of the scheme, Mid Suffolk would not be able to afford to go ahead. Mid Suffolk executive committee member Andrew Stringer said it would cost the council £2 million because savings made under the SWP would be lost.

Explaining Baberghs hesitation Councillor Humphrey Todd said: I was personally very keen [on the kitchen waste collection]. But when we got the figures, which had inflation all over them, we said we just cant afford it at the moment. There is a strategy committee meeting on Thursday (July 31) to make a final decision.

But fuel costs were described as a red herring by Stringer. He said that the scheme would use the same vehicles as were currently in use but with an additional third pod for food waste. But he added that if there were lifters and loaders involved fuel consumption might increase. But he said there were bigger political issues at play pointing to desires for a regional incinerator.

A leaked email from Mid Suffolk corporate director Chris Fry also alluded to other factors saying: Members were very critical of SCC's lack of vision and support of the scheme. SCC have acknowledged that they would be prepared to discuss with other councils the possibility of additional support for diverted waste from landfill.

Councils in the SWP include Babergh, Forest Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk County Council and Coastal District Council, Mid Suffolk, St Edmunds, and Waveney.


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