Blue Flower

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.
  • You've deliberately 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.