Britain cannot go on being the 'dustbin of Europe'
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has called for greater efforts to reduce unnecessary packaging and recycle waste in order to minimise the use of landfill in West Sussex.
The MP's call came after the Local Government Association (LGA) branded Britain the ‘dustbin of Europe', with figures showing that we use landfill more than any other country in the European Union.
Research indicates that Britain sent over 22.6 million tonnes of rubbish to landfill sites in 2004-2005. The LGA says that an area the size of Warwick has been taken over by landfill and, within a decade, the space will have run out.
In 2005/6, over half a tonne of waste - the weight of a small car - was collected for every resident in West Sussex. This is predicted to quadruple to two tonnes within the next ten years.
The pressure on West Sussex is being increased further as the county is expected to accommodate 2.6 million tonnes of waste produced by London between now and 2025 - a proposal condemned by Mayor Ken Livingstone as "totally unacceptable". According to the South East Plan, West Sussex will take more than 10 per cent of the waste allocated to the South East.
West Sussex communities have been campaigning strongly against landfill proposals. The Small Dole Action Group has been objecting to the extension of the Horton landfill site. Washington residents have formed the Chanctonbury Landfill Action Group (CLAG) to oppose plans for a site at Rock Common. Thakeham Village Action (TVA) is campaigning against the proposed use of Laybrook brickworks for landfill.
Nick Herbert has met all three groups to back their campaigns. He commented: "The use of landfill places huge pressure on rural counties like West Sussex, much of which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It isn't surprising that people don't want to live near landfill sites, with the smell, the flies and the nuisance caused by heavy lorries.
"Proposals for landfill sites at Laybrook and Rock Common, and the extension of the Horton tip at Small Dole, not only represent a threat to the quality of life of local communities - they demonstrate a failure to reduce the amount of waste that we produce."
Local people are playing their part with new recycling schemes. In Steyning, people are taking part in a new scheme that will see food and milk cartons collected and recycled. In Amberley, the village shop has issued reusable bags to every household in the village to cut down on the number of plastic bags ending up in landfill sites.
Mr Herbert added: "Recycling rates in West Sussex are now up to 34 per cent, but we have to do much more. I am pleased to see that the County has set a target to recycle 50 per cent of household waste by 2015.
"The LGA has said that up to 40 per cent of a typical shopping basket is made up of materials that cannot be recycled.
"How can it be right to continue adding to the problem of waste in this way? The example of local farmers' markets demonstrates that a lot of food packaging is unnecessary. The quality of their fresh produce is proof of that."
Notes for Editors
1. The news release from the Local Government Association can be found at http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=41558.
2. For the website of Chanctonbury Landfill Action Group, visit http://good-golly.com/clag/
3. For the website of Thakeham Village Action, visit http://www.thakehamvillageaction.org.uk/
4. For the website of the Small Dole Action Group, visit http://smalldole.com/
5. For the South East Plan, visit http://www.go-se.gov.uk/gose/planning/regionalPlanning/815640/.