The leader of Swale Borough Council and the chair of the council's Environment Committee have raised concerns about the potential borough-wide impact of the closure of the Faversham Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC).
Kent County Council have proposed three options for saving £1.5m from their HWRC’s and every one of those options includes the closure of Faversham HWRC. Two of the three options would also see Sheerness HWRC close for two days a week.
Cllr Tim Gibson, the Leader of Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “I clearly understand the need for all local authorities to look at how to save money against a background of increasing costs and inadequate funding. But it is difficult, if not impossible, to make any informed judgement on the impact these proposals will have on our residents, given the lack of data available to us. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be much clarity on any options appraisals that have been carried out. This is of course a major concern to many of our residents who are looking for the rationale behind the proposals".
Cllr Gibson went on to add: “However, what is blindingly obvious is that there will be a significant impact on the air quality management areas (AQMA’s) along the A2 with increased journey rates for residents travelling from Faversham to Sittingbourne. At the other end of the borough residents from Leysdown will be travelling along the Lower Rd and A249 to deposit their waste in Sittingbourne, all against a backdrop of increasing heavy congestion on our road network.
"There are many questions that remain unanswered, what is the likely cumulative effect on the AQMAs? Will recycling tonnage rates fall? At a time when many residents are struggling with day to day living costs, are the extensive journeys to alternative HWRC going to be affordable? Will the proposed closures see the scourge that is fly tipping increase to even higher levels? And how will the potential hundreds of tons of additional carbon being emitted be offset?
“Kent is saying that 6,000 additional homes would now be more than 20 mins drive from their nearest HWRC, but this figure is based on optimum traffic conditions and round trips would likely be in excess of an hour for most users from Faversham if travelling at the weekend".
Cllr Rich Lehmann, Chair of the Environment Committee, has conducted his own research into the proposals. He told SFM News: “The proposed Faversham closure would mean more than 11,000 households losing their nearest tip. There would be an extra 10,500 miles of traffic a week – more than half a million extra miles a year. This would be costing people in Faversham at least £150,000 a year in fuel. The proposed closures could generate around 600 additional cars in and out of Sittingbourne each week, primarily at weekends and of course tens of thousands of journeys through the AQMA’s on the A2 Ospringe and Teynham where air quality is already a concern. An estimated 123 tons of carbon will be generated assuming an average engine size of 1.6L and the road network being free from traffic. These proposals must be revisited, and transparent data provided.”
Kent County Council are due to open a Public Consultation to the proposals next month (Jult 2023) and we will bring you the latest developments here on YOUR local - 106.9 SFM.