Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The decay of recycling in Derby

Recycling in Derby is under attack by the city council who are now wedded to a waste contract spanning decades to feed a waste incineration plant under construction. The plant will require them to procure waste of set tonnage, moisture, calorific and biomass values which is at odds with the requirement to meet recycling targets such as the 50% 2020 national figure or the councils shared target with Derbyshire County Council of 55%.  Having hit a high of 48% recycling in 2010/11 the council itself is predicting a fall to 33% if their recycling scheme does not improve.
The removal of the free garden and food waste recycling scheme played a large part in the sudden downfall of the recycling scheme. It's replacement with a £40 charge for a part year garden waste only service led to widespread rejection and a sudden fall in the recycling rate.
Not satisfied with that destruction applied to the councils recycling scheme in 2013 the council decided to target specific areas of the city to remove kerbside recycling while claiming this was due to contamination issues and the need to improve the street scene. Areas targeted were Arboretum, Normanton, Abbey and New Zealand (an area of Mackworth). What became clear was that the council was targeting specific streets - including my own in Normanton so it was time to start asking questions.
It soon became clear having made an FOI on the subject that the council had no evidence to back their targeting of specific streets such as my own as contamination is extracted at processing time.
FOI 4662 confirmed this
"Tonnage data at round/street level is not available for blue bins as contamination tonnages are assessed after processing. "
With that in mind I thought I might as well ask BIFFA the waste processor directly as they take in Derby blue bin material at their plant on Victory Road in Derby. Nobody is better placed to comment than the company that actually accepts the material so I spoke to Steve Norman Regional Operations Manager in September 2013 who answered with the following.

Q1 Does the Biffa MRF facility in Victory Road have the need to reject incoming loads delivered in by Derby City Council due to excessively contaminated material?

Answer: The site at Victory Road has not to date rejected loads delivered to it premises. On the whole the material received is of a good quality and contains very low levels of contamination.

In the end kerbside recycling was removed from Arboretum with the provision of a restricted number of bring sites - which regularly attract fly tipping.

 Recycling removal was reported here on Letsrecycle  http://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/derby-to-trial-recycling-collections-removal/
Move on a year and a bit like groundhog day the council wheeled out a plan to remove recycling from restricted areas of the New Zealand area of Mackworth ward - claiming once again that bins were contaminated. A classic Derby City Council consultation took place where residents responded asking to keep the recycling service only for them to be ignored with 2 out of 3 local councillors those being Cllrs Pegg and Whitby concluding the kerbside recycling should be removed. The story was covered by the Derby Telegraph in October 2014 - currently the scheme has yet to be removed - http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/BINS-CONTROVERSY-Blue-recycling-bin-collections/story-23787235-detail/story.html
After the rather undemocratic situation in the New Zealand area of the Mackworth ward the city decided why bother asking residents at all and so promptly announced they were going to remove kerbside recycling services from more streets in Arboretum and extend this into areas of the Normanton which is an area of the city the local Neighbourhood Board decided they did not want kerbside recycling removed from. This situation was reported recently on the Resource website http://resource.co/article/derby-remove-recycling-bins-more-households-6952
By this point I had already made an FOI into blue bin contamination because I recognised it was best practice since my investigations had taken place a year earlier and things could have changed.
FOI 6346 was put in to the council in September 2014 the councils own FOI dept responded to my question shown below -

3- How many loads of blue bin recyclables have been rejected by your contractor BIFFA at its Victory Road sorting facility in 2013/14

ANSWER: None, rejects are taken out during the sorting process. The average percentage of rejected material from the start of the new blue bin collection system on June 4th 2013 to 31st March 2014 was 5.8%.
It struck me that maybe I wasn't clear about the period I was interested in so I returned to the FOI dept for clarity which is shown below.
In relation to question 3 - rejected loads at the BIFFA site in error I referred to 2013/14 - what I had meant was 2013 / 2014 - ie 2013 and the year 2014 to date - please advise if the answer is any different."

Answer: No individual loads have ever been rejected, both in the old pre June 2013 arrangements or in the new current arrangements. All rejected materials have been and continue to be taken out as part of the sorting process.
So straight from the horses mouth we have statements from the council's own FOI dept that material IS NOT rejected by its sorting contractor because the process simply sorts the wheat from the chaff so to speak.
So where is the contaminated waste that causes the council so much horror that they remove swathes of kerbside recycling in the city?
The answer is who knows ! the council claim when bins are contaminated they are not collected by the council and are tagged. But where are all the tagged bins ? and if the councils own FOI dept says contamination is sorted out of the recyclate which backs up statements made by BIFFA are the councils just peddling a story to remove a service without actually having the evidence to back their claims.
Who are the losers ?
We all are as driving recycling backwards will lead to Derby missing government targets when it is clear that the technology in place addresses the issue of contamination. Removal of the kerbside service - which cost £10 per tonne in 2013/14 and replacing it with a disposal cost of circa £118 per tonne condemns Derby residents to paying a high premium to support the service removal - the council suggest this is £30,000. Finally the people who lose the most are the residents of the streets where recycling has been removed. Residents of Balaclava Road in Normanton for example will be expected to walk a round trip of almost 1,200 metres to a bring site on Havelock Road but even worse ! they cannot even do that as at the time this blog was written the new bring site had not even been installed !





Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Tannery site gutted for development.

The destruction of the Sinfin Tannery site on Sinfin Lane Derby continues at pace. While the developer, Resource Recovery Solutions - a SHANKS waste company in association with Interserve through planning and the public inquiries painted the site as being a brownfield site the reality was somewhat different! While it was correct to suggest the site had housed industry previously - in this case a brick works and later an animal skin tannery all of which was demolished to suggest the site was brownfield would be to imply the site was an industrial wasteland. Those of us able to visit the site before the council removed that ability know very much that the site was actually a hub for wildlife next to an area of heavy industry - it was an oasis of grass, flowers, shrubs and trees and housed Derby's only population of Common Lizards - a BAP priority species. The image below shows what the site previously looked like.

Once the developer secured the go ahead for construction the site and its grassland was razed to the ground in late winter - a time when the Common Lizards would be hibernating but contractors carried out the work after a spell of poor weather turning the site into a mud bath.

Please take some time to watch a video from the site after contractors cleared the site

The developer was reported to Derbyshire police but the police took no action.
What may come as a surprise to some was the enthusiastic welcome Derby North MP Chris Williamson gave the funding of the waste incineration plant. A surprise because the MP is a vocal supporter of wildlife but happily welcomes the destruction of a site which was home to foxes and other mammals. He took to Twitter to announce his pleasure -

Chris Williamson@ChriswMP Aug 21
Delighted Green Investment Bank's confirmed it'll finance Derby's waste treatment facility that'll reduce landfill & cut 50k tonnes of CO2
So what is the current status of the site ? Well construction of the access has started and the site has been basically gutted as shown in the final image - the only untouched areas being the Common Lizard holding area.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The S.S.A.I.N press release - 22nd Aug 2014

As the recycling rate of Derby City Council enters an ever steeper decline with the implementation of a £40 garden waste tax news broke on 21st of August that the councils of Derby and Derbyshire have reached closure on a controversial waste incineration plant to be constructed in an area of poor health and deprivation in the heart of Sinfin in the city of Derby.
Sited on an ex tannery and landfill http://derby-waste-a-rubbish-blog.blogspot.co.uk/2014_05_01_archive.html currently subject to local concern regarding anthrax site contamination risking health both on and off site the controversial waste incineration plant has been successfully delayed by campaigners concerned about health impacts from the billion cubic metres of emissions per year from the plant along with the threat of wide spread combustion in the plant of materials which could and should be recycled. This was confirmed in the recent Derbyshire County Council waste draft strategy document on page 16 where it is noted 47% of residual waste in Derbyshire is recyclable waste. http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/images/Dealing%20with%20Derbyshires%20Waste%20Draft%20Strategy_tcm44-234569.pdf
In a bizarre twist supported by Vince Cable the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) has agreed to invest £64 million in the project even though the plant destroys potentially recyclable material and was show at the 2nd Derby public inquiry to be in its standard electricity only mode an inefficient waste disposal incineration plant which fails to meet the requirements of the R1 formula test of plant efficiency. It is not clear why a green investment bank would invest in such an inefficient plant. The council’s developer – Resource Recovery Solutions has at no point shown any evidence of local customer demand for heat and steam from the plant which would allow the plant to become an R1 compliant recovery facility. It therefore languishes on the bottom tier of the waste hierarchy in disposal.
The council press release implied that any recyclable materials would be extracted at the plant however no documents were put forward at either planning or at either public inquiry showing this to be the case – only that which would not burn would be extracted.
The councils of Derby and Derbyshire are very enthusiastic for the Sinfin plant to go ahead. In the case of Derbyshire County Council this is because they get their rubbish burnt on someone else’s door step and in the case of both councils they will be rewarded for procuring the correct feedstock – as shown in the waste contract with highly lucrative Renewable Obligation Certificates known as ROC’s. It is not clear why such an inefficient plant that sits at the bottom of the waste hierarchy will be rewarded for its failure to be efficient at energy generation and this opens the door for similar inefficient plants to be constructed across the UK. A legacy of the Green Investment Bank will be waste forced down the waste hierarchy with the claims of green energy and sustainable waste management while the reality is large volumes of combustion emissions will be pumped into a poor city community, resources will be destroyed and lives ruined – all in the name of green energy.
EMAIL S.S.A.I.N via ssainderby@aol.com
Twitter @ssainderby


Monday, 11 August 2014

Show me da money ! show me your accounts !

As a campaigner against a council you can often find a wall of silence when it comes to costs of a service ! councils don't like to tell Joe Public the more complex aspects of their finances because then we would know to much and that's bad if your a council. Councils just like us to pay our taxes and like it - but sometimes we need to peel back the layers to find out just what is lurking under the surface. Thankfully we have a legal right to do so via the Audit Commission Act and other such regulations. This allows the public access to the accounts of your local council in the UK for the previous financial year for a set period. Don't expect your local council to sing this from the rooftops - the notification could be just one newspaper advert in your local paper so keep a look out in the public notices section.

Here in Derby that notification appeared on 13th June 2014 for the period covering the financial year 2013/14 and you had to request to view the accounts by writing to the council (or emailing them). Derby City Councils accounts were open for viewing this year from June 30th to 25th July and it is important to notify the council of when you would like to attend, what you would like to see etc.
Potentially you can view books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts but expect the council to be cagey about certain aspects for example contracts may have sections redacted (blacked out) if considered commercially confidential.

When attending to view the accounts often these days documents are electronic. This stops you from being able to simply rifle through bills and receipts for the period which used to turn up some little gems. Make sure you ask to see a list of the accounts for the specific area of interest you are looking at so you can go through and ask to see bills and receipts of interest - sometimes you have to probe a little and if the accountant seems a bit cagey about something then maybe you have found a murky fact ! What you are doing is turning the tables on the council and instead of them holding you to account your holding them to account ! try and be polite but don't be put off ! it could be that the accountant doesn't have the depth of knowledge on some aspects of the accounts so he or she may have to come back to you at a later date with answers to some of your questions. Having a good relationship with the accountant is key as we want all the answers - not an accountant who clams up.

So there we have it ! if you want to know what your local council spends its money on - sorry your money on - go and find out ! Approach your council and ask what period of the year such viewing takes place. Make a note and look out in the local paper for notification. Remember they wont go out of their way to tell the public - so make a point of finding out officially. When you ask to view the accounts make sure you set out fully the aspects you want to see, attend on time in a respectful manner with paper, pen, pencil, camera and take your time to go through what you want to see. Do not be afraid to ask questions if something is missing or it is hard to understand. The council should be happy to help you out and answer your queries and hopefully copy you the accounts your interested in !
Now you have a new weapon in your armoury which links up nicely with the likes of Freedom of Information - also known as FOI where your questions under FOI can be aimed more carefully due to the financial accounts you have seen first hand.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The £50 million claim of the council leader pre election !

In recent months in incineration circles the media story around the controversial Kings Lynn incinerator has been something of a main event ! Finally when push came to shove in that case the local council pulled out of the incinerator project with talk of a cost to the council of £30 million or so - the government are currently refusing to help out that local council.
Such a situation raises some serious questions in relation to how a council finds itself in a position where it can be trapped into a waste contract or plant procurement. When this happens it stops councils from being able to manage waste in the most sustainable way because they are locked into projects which last decades, cost millions and manage waste via inefficient forms of incineration.
Here in Derby UK we find that the suggested costs to leave a waste contract which we have between the city and county with Shanks Waste via Resource Recovery Solutions is claimed to be even higher ! In a recent media story the then leader of Derby City Council - Councillor Paul Bayliss made a claim that it would cost at least £50 million to tear up the waste contract. This was in response to members of TUSK who were standing for election in Derby.
The claims can be seen here in the Derby Telegraph article Derby Telegraph story referring to the waste project
Such claims by the then leader of Derby City Council could not go unchallenged because these were serious claims being made by the head of the city. Were these claims true ? was the leader using such scaremongering to impact on the local election result in the Sinfin and Osmaston ward - where the controversial incinerator is proposed ?
An email was sent to Councillor Bayliss on 15th May 2014

" Dear Councillor Bayliss,

In recent days you have made statements about costs of £50 million that the council face if they pulled out of the waste contract. Could you please provide the evidence to back up your claims. We ask as we consider it is important that as a council you are open and clear on this situation so that members of the public can fully understand your claims. If you are going to make a statement referring to for example the contract then please provide a copy for clarity.

I copy this to the Derby Telegraph who ran the story in relation to TUSK.

 Kind regards
Simon Bacon

It was a long wait for a reply and I had to poke Councillor Bayliss to get a response on 31st May
Mr Bayliss wasn't keen to confirm what evidence he had to back up his claims and tried to divert such questions to the new leader of the council.

" Hi
I received the e mail but I was busy with election business.
I stand my statement to cut & run from the contract & the Inter authority agreement would cost £50 million at least.
Please refer all your questions on this matter to the new Leader elect in the future.

Sent from Cllr Paul Bayliss, Alvaston ward"
I went back to Mr Bayliss after his reply
" Thanks for your reply,
I granted you time to reply noting it was election time.
I asked you to provide evidence of your claim - making such claims pre election could be seen as an attempt to impact on an election result - for this reason it is reasonable in my view to ask you for proof.
You made the claim - now back it up or we can only conclude you have no evidence which raises the question of if you made false statements while leader of Derby City Council.
Simon Bacon
Mr Bayliss responded again
We are never going to resolve this one so I think it’s best if we agree to differ.
Cllr Paul Bayliss "
Mr Bayliss was being evasive - but then he is a politician ! I went back to him yet again !
That's OK Cllr Bayliss - we will go with - ex leader of Derby City Council refuses to prove his claims that to leave the controversial waste disposal contract would cost £50 million raising the question was such a claim put forward to influence voting in the Sinfin and Osmaston ward of Derby in the recent election.

Simon Bacon"
Ever evasive Cllr Bayliss responded further
" Simon
This is a democracy, you don’t seem to like it when I disagree with you. The vote impact next time will be the same as it was a couple of weeks ago in my view.

So I wish you well.
Cllr Paul Bayliss "
It was important to highlight to Mr Bayliss that it wasn't acceptable to make claims without backing them up

" Cllr Bayliss,

What I dont like is a leader (now ex) making statements in the media that they then will not provide evidence to back up.
Simon Bacon"
Mr Bayliss responded with what is a pretty common brush off when a councillor doesn't want to talk about a situation
As I have said you and I are just going to have to differ on this.
Cllr Paul Bayliss "
I returned to Councillor Bayliss with the following
" Thanks Cllr Bayliss,
Its not about differing on something - its about being asked for proof of your claims and you not providing them - which raises the issue of were your claims factually correct when printed in the media.
Simon Bacon"
That was the last response from Councillor Paul Bayliss as I write this blog post. He has made strong claims in stories in the media about a waste project and potential costs but has consistently side stepped the core questions put to him - to prove his claims ! Did he make his claims to impact on the local election? do his claims stack up? has he proven his claims to the media before they were published?
Waste is a dirty business !



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The brownfield site that isnt !

It was late 2008 when the residents of Derby learnt of a proposal to build a large incineration plant in Sinfin Lane in Derby. Until news broke of a proposal to burn the wastes of Derby and Derbyshire in the heart of Derby such thoughts were off the radar of the residents of the city who went about their daily lives. For those who lived close to the proposal - which we learnt would be built on the Sinfin Tannery site - an ex brick works, tannery and later landfill shock and horror hit them.
The wards of Sinfin, Osmaston and Normanton which circle the proposed site have for many years suffered social deprivation with unemployment and ill health being key issues. In the case of Sinfin and Osmaston heavy industry has been a close neighbour for decades and just at a time when due to foundry closures the communities air was beginning to improve the proposal put forward by the councils to be built on land owned by Derby City Council was sprung on unsuspecting residents.
What residents didn't know was that for a number of years the councils of Derby and Derbyshire had been plotting a joint method of disposing of the waste of the city and county by engaging with waste management companies.
The picture painted by the developer - Resource Recovery Solutions (Derbyshire) who at the time was a joint venture between United Utilities and Interserve and the councils was of a state of the art plant that wasn't an incinerator but was in fact a "gasification plant". This claim was soon rumbled by campaigners against the proposal who used the definition of an incineration plant in the Waste Incineration Directive (WID) which confirmed just what objectors thought - that gasification was just another name for an incineration plant.
The Sinfin Tannery was put forward as a brownfield site and so some (the council's and developer) felt this waste incineration proposal was ideally suited to such a position. The realities are very different as the Sinfin Tannery was in fact an oasis of wildlife in an area of heavy industry. The scars of industry had been covered over by grass, trees, wildflowers and a population of Common Lizards had moved onto the site - Derby's only known population. The image below was taken at the time of the 2nd public inquiry by which time Shanks Waste had taken over the contract from United Utilities and Interserve. We attended a site visit with the planning inspector and as you can see the site is not a brownfield as you would expect - it is a prime example of recovered industrial land which has become a great place for biodiversity.
Having been thrown out by planners after a long campaign by the local community and environmental groups including Sinfin, Spondon and all Against INcineration (S.S.A.I.N) and Derby Friends of the Earth supported nationally by the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) http://ukwin.org.uk/ a prolonged battle spanning from 2009 to this day has taken place taking in two public inquiries and a number of legal battles in the High Court. Planning permission was finally passed for the project calling into question the UK governments localism agenda where local people it is suggested are able to mould their communities.
We tend to consider that localism is a lie peddled by the UK government

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Who am I ???

Who am I ????
My name is Simon Bacon - I am a resident of Derby UK and work in commercial horticulture.
For many years now I have been involved in community action in relation to a number of issues in Derby UK. In the early days this meant engaging with the council to improve my local community via Area Panels and later Neighbourhood Forums where we were and are able to hold the council to account. By joining up with other like minded residents to defend local community assets threatened by Derby City Council such as the swimming pool at Gayton Community Junior School or to defend the Sanctuary local nature reserve in the city when Derby City Council granted itself permission to destroy part of the nature reserve to build a cycle track. I have done my best to support those around me fighting for a common goal - to stop the council trampling over the public.
My involvement in campaigns along with issues I have raised personally in Derby have shown me how driven councils are to reach their goal, trample over residents and refusing to listen or agree with alternatives. Councillors and parties when out of power often say one thing but do something else when in power - they string the public along for their votes and then do something different when in power - but hey maybe it is just that the councillors don't actually understand the issues or rely to much on what council officers tell them.
Working in horticulture as I do I understand the need to improve the soils of the UK and that starts by composting with the results applied to the soil. The UK government talks a lot about climate change and global warming but via the back door is granting incineration plants across the UK which will use feed stocks made from household waste which includes valuable food and garden wastes as is to be the case here in Derby. Further to this the UK government will reward the burning of such materials with Renewable Obligation Certificates - known as ROC's for short which makes the handling of waste an unbalanced playing field diverting valuable wastes from recycling as they are a valuable financial incentive to burn what should be recycled.
In recent years myself along with others have launched a long standing campaign against a large incineration plant proposal here in Derby UK where it is proposed by the councils of Derby and Derbyshire and their contractor - Resource Recovery Solutions (Derbyshire) - a company owned by Shanks Waste to burn hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household waste for 20-30 years.
This along with other waste related issues will form the basis of this blog.
You can contact me via email