During a particularly hot summer, with bedroom windows open everywhere in Gloucester, the noise of the seagulls during their breeding season has been a source of sleep deprivation for many residents here. And that’s putting it politely. Anyone who’s been to the Tip and Recycling Centre at Hempsted has seen clouds of these gulls feeding on household waste (i.e. landfill) there: the single most depressing sight in Gloucester.
So what is being planned to stop the landfill, prevent the tax on this that Gloucestershire residents pay every year, reduce the free feeding ground for the gulls, reduce trucks on the overcrowded A38 by Hempsted, increase recycling - and return this corner to the grazing grassland above the River Severn it once was?
For a decade at least Gloucestershire County Council has been working on the key solution: creating an alternative to landfill. The waste to energy plant now visible at Javelin Park (to be operated by Urbaser) will from March 2019 start taking household waste from Stroud and Gloucester (the majority of all landfill waste in Hempsted), and by July ALL household waste from both areas that cannot be recycled will go there and no longer go to the Tip at Hempsted. So the number of lorries on the A38 by pass to Hempsted will be sharply reduced and about £5 million from GCC on last year’s cost of landfill tax and the operator’s fee will be saved per year.
There will still be some commercial and some ‘inert’ (ie building excavation) waste outside their GCC contract accepted by the Tip operator (Enovert), but the Tip is likely to be at full capacity by the end of 2019, which will bring an end to these contracts too at this site. Which would mean that the work of spreading a clay and soil cover for all of this land (except the Recycling Centre). Sheep, instead of seagulls, may then happily graze again.
At the same time garden waste for composting at Hempsted will continue until Jan 2020 anyway, and all the items currently accepted by the Recycling Centre (operated by Ubico) will continue to be recycled exactly as now.
Of course that isn’t the end of the story, although a hugely significant change. There is still more work in our city (and all of our county) to recycle more – which also implies an education programme for immigrants not used to urban recycling – and Gloucester City Council is working to sort out management issues in the collection of rubbish: I expect announcements in due course to improve this.
But bringing an end to paying to put household waste into the ground at Hempsted, saving landfill tax, generating energy from waste (enough to heat an estimated 35,000 houses), returning the land to its former state and reducing lorry journeys on the A38, while retaining the Recycling Centre and depriving the gulls of their free food dump are all huge positives. Normally MPs fight for things to stay open, but in this instance I’m delighted that our Tip is Close to Closing. It’s one giant step forward for Gloucester to become a green city.
What more do you think we could do to increase recycling in Gloucester? Do send me your best ideas at Richard.email@example.com
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