Waste Summit

Last Friday, I hosted what I think was a unique event - a summit on waste.

As 50 of us met in Pulborough's Village Hall, one wag joked that usually when so many people gather to talk rubbish, it's in the House of Commons.

Among the attendees were representatives from West Sussex County Council, the Greater London Authority and the Regional Assembly, as well as three local groups fighting landfill sites: the Chanctonbury Landfill Action Group (CLAG), the Small Dole Action Group and Thakeham Village Action.

I'm convinced that Britain's addiction to dumping our rubbish in landfill sites has to be kicked, and that we have to move towards recycling and incineration.

West Sussex County Council currently landfills about two thirds of its household waste, whilst incinerating less than 1 per cent.

This is in stark contrast to Hampshire which incinerates around half of its household waste and only landfills 15 per cent.

The UK also has a long way to go to catch up with many of our European counterparts.  In the EU-15, only Greece and Portugal landfill a higher proportion of their waste than we do.

And our recycling rates are also far behind many parts of Europe: while we recycle only about a quarter of our household rubbish, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany manage to recycle around 60 per cent.

What's especially galling is that while West Sussex tries to increase recycling, London still plans to send us 10 per cent of its waste.

We don't want London's rotting rubbish dumped in West Sussex.  We don't want the lorries, the smell, the litter and the flies.

We've all got to play our part to reduce rubbish - individuals, communities and businesses.  But I also hope the County Council will think again, and find more environmentally friendly ways to deal with our growing mountain of waste than dump it in holes next to our quiet communities.

Michelle Taylor