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Council loses £300K as 'superdump' plan is scrapped
Buy this photo » Serena Rees is pleased Ardley Fields recycling centre is staying open
PLANS for a £3m “superdump” are on the scrapheap, having cost hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
Oxfordshire County Council has abandoned plans for the large-scale recycling site on farmland near Oxford Spires Business Park because of land ownership issues.
The council had hoped to be able to divert waste to the new Kidlington site and close household recycling centres in Stanford-in-the-Vale and Ardley Fields to save £750,000-a-year.
But the council has not been able to get clearance to use a strip of access land close to the proposed site, on greenbelt farmland between the business park and Langford Meadows wildlife site, so the flagship project has been scrapped.
Now county chiefs have entered into negotiations with Oxford City Council to try to find an alternative site.
Despite high recycling rates in Oxfordshire, 62 per cent for April to October last year, councils are under pressure to recycle more to avoid hefty landfill taxes.
A county council spokesman confirmed £300,000 had been spent on the doomed Kidlington project.
Cabinet member for growth and infrastructure Hilary Hibbert-Biles said it was “disappointing” to have to scrap the scheme.
She said: “Given that Kidlington is now not moving forward, we’re working closely with the city council to find an alternative site. We’re also spending about £100,000 on Redbridge to improve it for the short and medium term.
“We will also be piloting a re-use scheme at some of our recycling centres and the results of that pilot will be looked at in the autumn as part of a review of our waste management strategy.”
Re-use schemes see councils sell items residents take to take to tips, with money raised reinvested in the waste service.
The failure of the Kidlington scheme means Ardley Fields and Stanton-in-the-Vale will remain open for the foreseeable future.
The recycling centres had been due to close in September 2013 and December 2014 respectively.
The news has been welcomed by Fewcott resident and mum-of-two Serena Rees, 53, who uses Ardley Fields.
She said: “I’m very pleased it’s not going to close down. I just think we need to have somewhere within easy reach of people’s homes.
“If they did away with it there would be more fly-tipping.”
Kidlington councillors Doug Williamson and Tim Emptage said hundreds of thousands of pounds had been wasted in survey and planning application fees at a time of deep budget cuts.
Mr Williamson said: “The county council have increased day centre charges and transport charges for vulnerable elderly people, they have cut youth services and library services, cutting adult social care in the latest budget and yet found over £300,000 to waste on this project.”
Mr Emptage added: “We understand that the problem relates to the ownership of a small piece of land which is essential to gain access to the site. Surely the county council should have resolved this issue before spending so much money and time on this project?”
The council confirmed the only reason for the abandonment of the scheme was the fact there was a “ransom strip” of land needed by the council.
But the council would not confirm whether the issue was over finding the owner or failed negotiations with them. County council spokesman Owen Morton would also not confirm the exact figure spent by the council on the process, but said it was correct to say it was in the region of £300,000.
He said: “It costs significant sums of money to progress any major project through the various planning stages, and with any scheme there will always be the potential for problems to emerge, preventing its delivery – even, as in this case, at a stage when planning permission has been secured.
“No one wants to see public money spent on an unrealised project, but neither can any council plan for the future of important public services without investing in the proper development of those plans.”
RECYCLING FIGURES APRIL TO OCTOBER 2012
- Cherwell: 59 per cent
- Oxford: 46 per cent
- South Oxfordshire: 68 per cent (number one in the UK)
- Vale of White Horse: 67 per cent (number two in the UK)
- West Oxfordshire: 63 per cent
- Oxfordshire average: 62 per cent (figure expected to go down by the end of 2012/13 when poor garden waste recycling figures from the winter months are factored in)
UK average: 43 per cent
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