Food Waste – where do we go from here?

The Food Waste trial in Fetcham is coming to an end. MVDC have failed to provide an alternative and build on the experience gained from the trial. This is disappointing from a Council that likes to boast about it’s high recycling rate.

Anaylsis of the figures from DEFRA (November 2008) show that MVDC is 12th place for dry recycling, however, the council’s record on composting & food waste is poor in comparison. The overall position is that MVDC lies in 46th place out of all the English Local Authorities. The figures are:

  • Recycling : 32.81 %
  • Composting (inc Food Waste): 12.91%
  • Total 45.72% (leading councils are around 58%)

A quick check of the MVDC website does not give any further indication of what the future plans are. The link to the Food Waste Collection Trial is broken – even if the trial has ended, it would be useful to know the results & conclusions. The linked Local Waste Strategy document only looks as far as 2009 and curiously is named “draft_strategy.pdf”. What are the plans for the future? If you email the Recycling Officer at the email address given you do not get a reply – perhaps there is no officer or future plans to “Green up the Valley“.

Okay, MVDC signed the Nottingham Declaration & they claim to have an award for their website. However, it would be interesting to see how they plan to achieve the recycling rates that they lay out in the Sustainable Development Strategy Document (v6) In this document, the national targets for recycling are set as:

  • To recycle or compost at least 25% of household waste by 2005
  • To recycle or compost at least 30% of household waste by 2010
  • To recycle or compost at least 33% of household waste by 2015

MVDC aims a lot higher (probably because the district has almost hit the 2015 goal) by adopting the “Surrey Joint Municipal Waste ManagementStrategy (JMWMS) in October 2006. This strategy is covers municipal waste management in Surrey for the period 2006 to 2026”. This set targets of:

  • recycling and composting targets of 40% by the year 2010
  • recycling and composting targets of 50% by 2015
  • aspire to reach a long term target of 60% recycling and composting by 2025.

Now, there is some confusion here. What is the point of adopting these targets if Mole Valley is already at a 47% rate ? Further on in the Sustainability Strategy Document, the Community Action Plan states:

  • To exceed the government recycling and composting target of 30% – to 36% during 2006.
  • To reach 42% recycling rate by 2008.

You have to assume at this point that the document is due a revision to reflect the current state of recycling in the area. Most importantly, the document does not have any Commitment to Action on the subject of Food Waste. Obviously, individual can do more by not wasting as much & not rely on on our resource stretched Authorities. Folks can also use a Food Cone or a wormery. The Council actively encourages the first of these options, however, not everyone has the space or the know how to use these solutions and so a proposal for Food Waste needs to be put forward to put Mole Valley back at the top of the list of Green local authorities.

It would be nice to see the Leatherhead Residents Association actively pushing MVDC for answers on this topic.

Improving Recycling Rates in Mole Valley

Mole Valley claims to have one of the highest dry recycling rate in the UK. How can this be improved further?

Here’s a simple idea.

A number of consumer items such as foil, cartons & batteries can only be recycled at the MVDC Recycling sites. Why not place small recycling bins for these items close to places that people go on a regular basis e.g outside Sainsbury’s/Lidl & Tesco? The collection bins do not have to be that big – they can be collected with other waste on a daily basis and the bins wheeled away for safe storage overnight.

Citizens of Mole Valley are far more likely to visit the Supermarket than the tip. The Recycling Sites are not that accessible if you don’t have a car. Get the supermarkets involved – after all they provide the goods in the first place – it will look good for their image also. The Plastic Bags collection bins are well used in-store and so this indicate that folks are willing to bring recyclables to the shop with them.

Recycle Milk Bottle Tops

Recycle Milk Bottle tops: St Nicolas Bookham collects them; go for recycling plus a donation to charity. If you ever go to Bookham they can be left in the Tower in St Nicolas Church (at the cross roads).

Church is open daily, approx 9-4pm.

Big Tidy Up – Leatherhead

Mole Valley District Council is supporting ‘The Big Tidy Up’ campaign; the nationwide clean up run by ‘Keep Britain Tidy’. The Council has organised a litter pick event in Leatherhead on Saturday 13th September 2008, 10:00am to 1:00pm focussing on the footpath which runs between Kingston Road and the railway station and, time permitting, also on the Kingston Road itself.

Mole Valley District Council will be providing litter picking tools, refuse sacks, gloves and bin liners to all volunteers and will arrange the clearance of all the litter collected.

Anyone who would like to help is very welcome to join the group, meeting at 10.00am at the bottom of the Kingston Road steps, opposite the Community Centre.

Source: MVDC Website

River Mole Project : Progress Report from MVDC

Following an email for information, Rod Shaw (MVDC) provided the following update:

Progress has been good. The entire length of the path and the sub-base has been laid and some attention is not being given to the installation of the barrier at the Thorncroft Bridge end and the seating. The top surface of the path will be laid at the beginning of next week, we hope. The weather forecast for this week is not encouraging and we are reliant of dry conditions. The contractor has done a nice, neat job with little disturbance to the vegetation on either side of the new path.

Previous posts on the subject:

Public Parking in Ranmore House Car Park

Be aware that a new set of restrictions regarding public use of the Ranmore House car park has been instigated. The rules stop overnight parking. Town Centre traders report that the Parking Company that polices the restrictions is very enthusiastic.

The privately owned car park is located between the High Street & the Crescent.

River Mole Project: Response from MVDC

I am sorry that people have been upset by the proposals that we are implementing along the river. I hope that what I say will give you some confidence that what we are doing is not going to cause the damage you fear and that the new path will fit well with its surroundings.

I will start with an explanation of why we have embarked on this project. A couple of years ago the local community undertook a consultation to examine the projects that people would like to see happen in Leatherhead. It was known as the Leatherhead Health Check. If you have access to the internet you can follow the thinking on www.leatherheadtomorrow.co.uk. One important project taken up by community representatives was the desire to improve access to the river for a range of possible users, especially disabled people. The path between the Town Bridge and the Thorncroft Bridge is promoted as a disabled friendly route, but it is far from satisfactory for this purpose.

The paths along the river are in various stages of disintegration. At the Town bridge end this is a rather horrible concrete path and there are other environmental improvements that could be done at the same time to enhance the natural qualities of the path. The middle section has all but disappeared under grass and there is no usable surface. The final section to the Thorncroft Bridge was surfaced about 10 years ago and has lasted well, but it is deteriorating and will need attention. This path was laid down at just over 2 metres wide.

The path surface we will put down will enable all users to pass along an all weather surface, winter or summer. It will be suitable for cyclists linking two off road routes to Fetcham and towards Dorking. The appearance and make up of this surface has been the subject of some discussion. Let me assure you that it is a material that will look good. The surface is largely made up of buff coloured chippings and so it will look like a smooth gravel path. The width of path will be no more that 2.2 metres, which is just a bit wider than the path that was laid to the Thorncroft Bridge . In places, where the path naturally narrows, the width will be reduced to accommodate existing features. This material is resistant to flooding and has been used along tow paths and other countryside locations. We will also replace and add seats manufactured by the Norbury Park Sawmills so that people have places where they can rest along the route. I am happy to confirm that no trees are being removed during the work.

There is natural concern about the impact on wildlife. We have, therefore, taken advice on this from the ecologist and fisheries officer at the Environment Agency, and one or two others with expertise. We also had to undergo a rigorous consent procedure for this work operated by the Environment Agency which looked at a whole range of possible impacts from water pollution, flood risk and environmental impact. This consent would not have been issued if there was serious danger of damaging wildlife habitats. Since the recent concern, we have consulted further with our colleagues at the Agency and they confirm that there is no reason not to proceed with these works from an environmental point of view. We are not excavating lower than the existing paths and we are employing a contractor who is skilled in countryside work.

We have worked with the Leatherhead and District Countryside Protection Society on this project and they are, indeed, helping to fund it. It is perfectly understandable that there is concern about this lovely area, but we feel that we are only restoring a well used path with a very good material and in doing so, other less advantaged people will be able to enjoy it too

Finally, there has been much discussion about access for the disabled at the Throncroft Bridge end. The gate with a radar key is intended for large off-road mobility vehicles. All other standard wheel chairs will be able to use the kissing gate. The wheelchair user pictured in the Dorking Advertiser will have no difficulty using the path and should, indeed find it easier.

We would welcome feedback when the work is complete. I hope they will be favourable, although it will take a season or two for the vegetation to grow up and the path to weather in. I hope you will be patient with us and understand that a great deal of thought and expertise has gone into the work.

Rod Shaw
Planning Department
Mole Valley District Council

Press: Leatherhead Advertiser 29th May 2008

LRA members managed to secure the editorial slot to voice concerns over the River Mole Project. The project run my MVDC plans to to build a 2.5m through the nature reserve close to Thorncroft Bridge, Leatherhead.

A number of letter to the editor on the proposed footpath were also published.

The Green Mole Forum

The www.greenmoleforum.org is your resource if you are interested in improving the sustainability and preserving the beauty of Mole Valley.

It provides news and information and is a hub connecting and networking local groups working towards the common aim of reducing our environmental footprint.