By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
An upcoming review into Nottinghamshire’s 12 recycling centres will “strengthen” the county’s provision but no there are no commitments sites won’t close, a council chairman has said.
Nottinghamshire County Council is undertaking the strategic review to address problems raised at the county’s 12 sites, including issues with traffic and congestion.
A report published earlier this month said many of the sites regularly experience “operational difficulties”, with some sites operating at capacity and suffering issues with their location.
This was experienced mostly during the height of the Covid pandemic, with long queues seen at some sites as a result of social distancing measures.
The hub in West Bridgford needed a booking system to manage traffic and congestion on its nearby road network, which ended in November, while the council has implemented traffic measures at other sites.
The launch of the review sparked concerns some of Nottinghamshire’s sites could close, but councillors were given reassurances earlier this month that the review “absolutely isn’t about reducing provision”.
It comes as the Government plans changes to national waste policies, bringing through new legislation expected to “fundamentally change” the type and amount of waste collected at kerbsides and recycling hubs.
And Councillor Neil Clarke (Con), chairman of the transport and environment committee, says the review is “very timely in light of the new housing” being built around the county.
His comments came after he was questioned on the review and was asked to commit to keeping all 12 Nottinghamshire sites in their current location.
Speaking in Thursday’s full council meeting, he said: “Time has moved on from four to eight years ago, methods in technology change and methods in recycling change.
“We need to respond to those changes and the way products and waste are reused, recycled and disposed of.
“The commitment I can make is the intent of the review is to strengthen our recycling centre provision, not weaken or reduce it, and to drive up recycling rates across the county.”
He says the authority will look for “best value” in recycling services under the review.
But he said: “I can’t commit to keeping all the centres open because, maybe, we might want to have some more, or maybe the review might suggest closing one and building a bigger, more expansive super-centre.
“We don’t know that and that’s the purpose of the review. I’m not prejudging what the review is going to say, but once the review is complete, further proposals to improve recycling in the county will be brought forward.”
It follows news the council will not be including a previously-proposed new recycling centre in Cotgrave, Rushcliffe, within the proposals.
The council approved plans for the new recycling centre to move forward in 2020. A planning application was expected to be submitted in 2021, but never materialised.
It has led to the Conservative administration being accused by opposition councillors of breaking a manifesto commitment “made on multiple occasions” by not including the new centre, which was promised within the Conservatives’ 2017 pledges.
Concerns were raised on Thursday by Cllr Steve Carr (Lib Dem), of the Independent Alliance.
His colleague and former Conservative, Cllr Francis Purdue-Horan (Ind), previously campaigned for the centre for years.
Cllr Purdue-Horan, who represents Bingham East, previously said: “This is a missed opportunity for the council to keep a historic promise made as far back as 2017 to residents.”
The strategic review, which is also expected to outline opportunities for future investment and income generation, is expected to take three months to complete.