Recycling is to become much harder for thousands of Wealden residents as the council begins to close its neighbourhood recycling centres across the district.
The news comes in national Recycling Week when local authorities encourage us all to recycle more although, in Wealden, it may be about to get much harder.
Around 70 such sites were introduced throughout Wealden 15 years ago by the then Conservative-led council. Now the council is axing its 30 remaining community recycling points to save money as it discovers sustainability to be an expensive pastime that it can ill afford, and reports fly-tipping at some of the sites which contaminates the material.
The move has angered Conservative councillors and residents, not least because it’s been made without any consultation. Something the council says it does not have to undertake and already meets the requirements of the 1990 Environmental Act.
Now a group of residents in Hadlow Down are forming a protest group and plan to lobby the council with a ‘Save Our Bins’ petition in an effort to keep the poplar facility at Wilderness Wood.
Conservative councillor for the area, Michael Lunn, says that his straw poll clearly shows that the village wants its local recycling site at Wilderness Wood to remain.
“There is no reason for it to be closed, it is well-used and well-liked. We have not experienced fly-tipping, the site is hidden within the compound of Wilderness Wood. My appeal for the council to reconsider with fell on deaf ears and now it’s time for the community to speak.”
Wealden District Council says the change has been made to encourage residents to make full use of their household bins which is the most effective and efficient way to recycle, reducing costs by avoiding a duplicate service.
These arguments hold little weight with Conservative group leader, Cllr Ann Newton:
“We should be encouraging recycling as much as possible in as many places as possible, which is why we introduced the sites when running the council. It is incredible that, just a few months after taking over, the Green/Lib Dem alliance remove residents’ access to recycling sites. Could anything be more anti-green?”
Cllr Lunn agrees, saying that recycling is not about being economically-viable, it is about saving the planet's resources through re-use of precious materials, and the threatened sites are critically important in rural locations.
“Under Conservative control, Wealden had the highest recycling rate in East Sussex”, he said. “Rather than doing the bare minimum required of it by legislation, Wealden should continue to lead the way in recycling initiatives”
Paul James, a local resident said “it’s absolutely crazy for the Council to shut down these rural recycling sites without local consultation.
"This will cause a bigger carbon footprint if we all have to drive to the tip to recycling excess materials. Its seems a really weird decision when we are all trying to be sustainable. This decision seems short-sighted and appears a way of cutting our public services”.
Cllr Michael Lunn uses the Wilderness Wood recycling point, probably for the last time.