Message from Care4Cary to those who care ...
We are writing to update you on the status of the Somerset Waste Board’s proposal to use Dimmer as a waste transfer station for half of Somerset, causing serious and avoidable traffic problems and building in 25 years of excessive transport costs which will fall on South Somerset and Mendip ratepayers. Care4Cary encourages anyone who is able to do so to make the trip to Taunton this Friday (see details below) to support our objections. This is likely to be the last chance to do so.
Care4Cary is supportive of the County’s move away from putting household waste into landfill and enabling people to recycle more. But, we are adamantly opposed to Viridor operating a waste transfer station at Dimmer, which would take all Mendip and South Somerset household rubbish collections and then despatch the bulked up waste in huge trucks through Clanville and on to Avonmouth.
Care4Cary together with representatives of Castle Cary Town Council and Ansford, Carymoor and Lydford parish councils will be attending Somerset Waste Board’s meeting in Taunton on Friday 16 December and are intending to speak on behalf of our local communities. We expect broadcast and print media to be there too. Our sole focus is on delaying the final decision on the waste transfer station at Dimmer - we will not comment on any other element of the waste treatment facility contract between the Somerset Waste Partnership/Somerset Waste Board and Viridor (Pennon Group).
The meeting will be held in the Luttrell Room of County Hall, Somerset County Council Offices, Taunton, TA1 4DY and will start at 10 am. Members of the public and the press are able to attend and we would love as many people as possible to come along. There is very limited opportunity to speak, but just by being there you will make an impact.
Click on the following link for full information on meeting procedure.
In October, Care4Cary attended a special meeting of the Somerset Waste Board where the Board unanimously agreed in principle to enter into a new waste treatment facility contract with Viridor. We were astonished to see that South Somerset District’s two representatives on the board - Jo Roundell Greene and Clare Aparicio Paul - both voted for this despite no consultation whatsoever having taken place with our local communities.
The contract, which involves Pennon Group (parent company of Viridor) building and operating a new waste to energy facility at Avonmouth, is to run for 25 years, with no break clause. While we don’t like it, we can understand that Pennon Group need certainty of waste supply to enable them to finance construction of the mega-million pound Avonmouth facility. What is total nonsense is to give Viridor a 25 year contract with no break clause to handle Mendip and South Somerset’s household waste at Dimmer.
Unless there is some flexibility to review the site of the waste transfer station during that 25 year period or there is a break clause specifically in relation to the waste transfer station, South Somerset will be locked into a costly household rubbish collection system that precludes making any further savings beyond the three weekly collection saving delivered by Recycle More for the next 25 years. At a time when cutting costs is so important and difficult decisions are having to be made at South Somerset District Council how anyone - let alone two of our own councillors - can think this is a good idea beggars belief. As a result of this contract, savings may well be made at County level, they certainly won’t be at District level (which pays for the household rubbish collection) - so we the ratepayers in South Somerset will suffer - and not just in terms of rates.
As two Planning Inspectors’ have noted previously the B3153 is overloaded with HGVs and is in places barely more than a country lane. Trucking all Mendip and South Somerset household waste from towns such as Frome and Yeovil to Dimmer to be bulked up and then trucked out again to Avonmouth is clearly nonsense. Residents and users of the B3153 - particularly those in Clanville through which all the bulked up waste will be taken - deserve to be treated better than this.
Care4Cary encourages everyone to make the trip to Taunton this coming Friday as this could very well be our last chance to stop this nonsense before the contract ‘heads of terms’ are signed.
In view of your concerns about the amount of HGV traffic using the B3153 through Alford and Lovington. This has blighted the lives of those living alongside this road for years as well as causing danger to all those using the many blind access points etc onto this road. A substantial proportion of this HGV traffic is generated by the landfill site at Dimmer. Whilst we have put up with this for years, we were always promised that such traffic would cease when the landfill site closed.
Despite this background, the Somerset Waste Board are proposing to award a 25 year contract to Viridor to transport waste from South Somerset and Mendip Districts to a new energy recovery facility at Avonmouth, from April 2020, via a waste transfer station at Dimmer. Whilst Viridor would probably need the certainty of a long term contract to secure funding to build the new facility at Avonmouth, there is no reason why transfer station requirements to serve South Somerset and Mendip should be tied into such a long term contract. This is why Care4Cary and local parish and town councils have requested that the specific decision on the possible siting of the waste transfer station at Dimmer is delayed, to allow time for SSDC, the Somerset Waste Partnership and other parties, to conduct further investigation and consultation on the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way to transport waste from the South Somerset area to this new facility.
As you will see from Care4Cary’s information the Somerset Waste Board will be considering this matter at 10am on Friday 16th December at County Hall, Taunton. If local people turn up to this meeting in force, this would impress the strength of feeling in the local community about this matter on the Somerset Waste Board. (Conversely, if just a few people turn up, this will, sadly, suggest or at least give an excuse for the Somerset Waste Board taking the opposite view). Hence, please attend this meeting if you possibly can as this is probably our last chance to try and get the Somerset Waste Board to defer this decision pending a full investigation as suggested above.
The short report being considered at this meeting can be seen by clicking on the link below. The much longer report to the previous meeting on 21st October is available by clicking on the second link below.
Open letter to Mr Steve Read
Somerset Waste Board
I understand that you have little choice but to work with Viridor in the South West. But with the wealth of information in the public domain wouldn’t it be more prudent to distance yourself from them rather than giving the appearance to everyone that you are working for them?
Consider the Viridor fiasco at Cardiff - Worker gossip that it is not well built or running properly. Coverage in the media reporting that Viridor want to truck waste from 100’s of miles away to keep it more profitable. In fact, there’s no real reason that Bristol’s waste can’t be shunted across the river so we can avoid another unnecessary environmental disaster at Avonmouth entirely.
Then there’s the current coverage of the political farce over the Viridor/Sutton/Croydon Beddington Lane incinerator. Where the entire operation by Viridor Environmental Credits charity arm to bribe councillors and MP Tim Brake is embroiled in all kinds of damaging spats, resignations, accusations of political interference, collusion, coercion, bribery, corruption and misuse of LFC funds and accompanied interest from HMRC.
Maybe the Glasgow problems would be enough to make you take notice. The Council's decision to hand over control of the Polmadie recycling plant to a private company (Viridor) to run a privatised incinerator (after initial proposals sold the idea on the basis that it would comprise part of a council green energy scheme) negotiated by Council director Robert Booth, brother of a Viridor executive, who retired with a huge severance package following the deal.
How about Manchester. Suggesting they have to terminate their 25 year contract with Viridor because it's too expensive to continue and too inflexible to work with in these times of austerity.
We all know Viridor’s vast future profits is predicated on moving into operating incinerators - However, Viridor already has the necessary planning permission for the Avonmouth incinerator in place. All Viridor required from Somerset’s public servants and political tools is a guaranteed revenue stream based on public money contracts to raise the finances to build it.
Taunton has fulfilled Viridor’s requirements to perfection. However, I don’t want to focus on local government’s apparent collusion with the needs of a private company, because I want to address the more pertinent question that affects me. That is: Why you insisted on dragging the Dimmer site into this sorry mess at all?
- Dimmer tip isn’t required for Viridor's Avonmouth project to succeed.
- Dimmer is an entirely separate issue with well-known specific problems with universally accepted pre-existing agreements in place.
- It appears that there is no legitimate reason to build a Transfer Station in East Somerset with a landfill site already sited in a perfect position near Bridgewater.
The Dimmer site has been opposed by the local residents since before it opened. Since the 90’s the traffic has worsened measurably so it’s now even less appropriate for the area. I know of two planning applications, one business venture and a housing project, turned down citing problems caused by traffic on this road in this last year alone. You’ve obviously never had the pleasure of walking along or trying to sleep or read a book alongside the B3153 between 4am and midnight, but Viridor and other hauliers have rendered four villages virtually uninhabitable by turning the B3153 into their private HGV motorway and racetrack.
The villages of Clanville, Alford, Lovington and Lydford on Fosse have never been afforded sufficient public safeguards, traffic controls, noise barriers, compensation for loss of amenity or protected from cumulative pollution. It took over twenty years for someone from the Highways Department to discover two HGVs couldn’t pass each other in Alford … and the misplacement of a 30mph sign still allows Viridor HGVs to speed into Lovington at 60mph past several residences on a blind bend where there have been multiple minor collisions and accidents!
You recently made a statement about doing your utmost to transfer waste directly to Walpole rather than to Dimmer.
- Like me, you know that a Transfer Station at Walpole would be able to handle all the waste from Yeovil, Wells, Street and Glastonbury without impacting anyone.
- Like me, you also know that Walpole landfill has great access to Avonmouth via the M5 and is linked to the A39 and A303 major routes.
- You should also know that bringing waste from Yeovil or Frome to Dimmer is a financially negligent and environmentally damaging proposal. Frome is almost in Wiltshire and it costs Yeovil £200,000 to transport it's waste to Dimmer that it could better spend on it's own waste facility and transferring directly to Walpole.
- You already know there’s a low railway bridge that won’t allow any excessively large vehicles to leave Dimmer without having to trawl through the residential area of Clanville and up the A371 to Shepton Mallet through Prestleigh.
- You should also know that the routes around Dimmer will be less fuel efficient per mile travelled and higher in vehicle mantenance costs accrued - I worked out that in 10 hours driving to Walpole it took over 12.5 hours to take the same loads via Dimmer costing the tax-payer a fortune in driver wages.
The main problem for me is that, you've made a lot out of claiming proberty, impartiallity and listening to the public, but it flies in the face of perception.
- You committed millions of pounds of public money to a scheme that only benefits Viridor.
- Just because the County Council granted planning permission to Viridor, there's no compelling argument to use it.
- Cllr Derek Yeomans and you were overheard prior to the 16th of December meeting talking with your solicitor about how to handle the public. Cllr Yeomans said "We'll listen to what they say and just continue"
- You’ve brushed aside the previous agreements to allow Dimmer to close at its end of life by using the excuses, that you didn't know and alternatively that they were not legally binding.
- treated all the people it affects as a mere inconvenience.
- The fact is that no matter how ‘properly obtained’ anything has been, it doesn’t lessen the appearance of wrongdoing, mismanagement or worse.
There is only one way to assure the residents that you’ll be doing your utmost to send waste directly to Walpole - Close Dimmer as per the 1991 negotiations when the landfill is full. No repurposing, no multi-generational occupation, no weasel words. Just closed.
I look forward to your revised announcement on this matter.
- England invented the job of “dustman” in London to collect and recycle waste in the 1800’s.
- Everything was sorted on the outskirts of the city.
- Virtually nothing has changed to the collection system since then.
Back then almost 100% of our waste was recycled and biodegradable. But in the recent past we’ve embraced the throwaway society, accepted built in obsolescence from manufacturers, worshipped at the altar of disposable nappies, and created vast landfill sites to bury mountains of plastic packaging in. And how did we adjust to these changes?
We gave ourselves some dinky little plastic boxes to put our recyclable waste in and everything just magically disappears.
Dimmer landfill has been at the epicentre of decades of bad decisions but it had a definite end of life. There was no extension option to the contract on this landfill site. When site is full, it closes. Viridor, bye-bye. You won't be missed.
The people of this area have done their duty to society. We’ve all made our sacrifices in quality of life and lowered property values. We were promised for over 20 years respite from lunatic HGV drivers, the danger, the noise and the pollution they bring.
Did you even know that Somerset County Council have done a deal behind closed doors to allow Viridor to perpetually occupy the Dimmer site? Riding roughshod over every resident, parish council and planning committee, and contrary to all prior public and political consensus and agreements? Vladamir "Crime in Crimea" Putin would be proud of Somerset Waste Partnership - They simultaneously pullled off the perfect land-grab and the perfect heist of the public coffers and no one even noticed until it was all over.
“For Sale” signs appeared along the B3153 following this decision but concentrated around Clanville. These have been stable communities for decades, and if they’re destroyed, they can’t be rebuilt. Somerset Waste in Taunton doesn't care about people because Viridor's needs have been put first.
Apathy is not an option: If you'd like to directly access the people responsible in Taunton, use this form to contact Steve Read..