Cost-cutting measures planned for Northamptonshire’s recycling services

Sixfields Recycling Centre
Sixfields Recycling Centre

A shake-up is planned for Northamptonshire’s recycling services as the county council attempts to further cut its costs in the wake of its financial trouble.

Van drivers will need an electronic permit and will have limited use of the drop-in recycling centres.

Some centres may close as part of the authority’s plans to make savings to its waste budget.

And the whole collection and disposal of Northamptonshire’s waste system may change when the boroughs and county councils are abolished in 2020 and replaced with a unitary authorities.

Currently the borough councils are responsible for collecting household waste and Northamptonshire County Council is in charge of treating, recycling and disposing the waste.

The plans were outlined by NCC’s head of waste management at Fiona Unett at the environment, development and transport scrutiny committee held at County Hall yesterday (June 20).

The senior officer said: “Unitary authorities tend to be higher performers in terms of recycling rates as they have full control over the process. When we become a unitary it will be an opportunity to harmonise the current recycling system and achieve better economies of scale.”

A total of £43m is spent each year in the county on waste services. Of that, £20m is spent by the seven boroughs on collection and £23m spent by NCC on recycling, treatment and disposal.

In 2016/17 347,630 tonnes of household waste was collected in Northamptonshire. More than one million visits were made to the county’s nine recycling centres.

Fiona Unett told councillors on the committee that some centres may close.

She said: “We are doing a review of our network of recycling sites to make sure we have the right number and that they are in the right places. An option would be to relocate and replace with a super site.”

The two Northampton recycling centres at Ecton Lane and Sixfields could shut and be replaced with one ‘super centre’.

As part of the changes, from October residents using commercial vehicles would have to apply for an e-permit and would only have access to the site six times a year. The measure is being brought in to crack down on illegal dumping of trade waste at recycling centres. It is estimated the permit scheme would save the authority £200,000 per year by reducing unauthorised trade waste at household recycling centres.

And a new waste incineration centre is an option for the county. Currently waste is transported out of the county and disposed of at sites in Cambridgeshire, Milton Keynes and Wolverhampton.

Plans for a £160m waste-to-energy power plant at the Westbridge Depot in St James Mill Road, Northampton, were shelved in October last year after proposer Rolton Kilbride decided to reconsider its options. There had been a campaign by residents against the plans.

NCC needs to save £35m from its budget this year. On top of this it has to pay back £12m to replenish the reserves which were taken in April in a bid to balance the books.

This week (June 19) the authority was also told by Public Health England that it will have to find the £8m it misspent last year from the public health budget. Instead of spending it on health services the authority used it to cover costs in adult social care and children’s services.