County council earmarks £1m for new zero landfill waste plan

Almost £1million has been earmarked to develop a new zero landfill waste strategy for Essex.

Essex County Council says its Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy is out of date and is now in the process of developing a new one

A drawdown of £924,000 from the Waste Reserve, to deliver the Essex waste strategy will be used on resident engagement and communications, delivery of any public consultation and a draft strategy creation.

At the strategy’s heart will be a plan to ensure it meets its commitments of sending zero waste to landfill by 2030 and how it can contribute to the council’s ambition to be net carbon neutral by 2050.

This is especially relevant given the large sums it is currently spending just to send waste to landfill following the failed Tovi Eco facility at Basildon that was supposed to process all of Essex’s black bag waste.

The PFI deal said to be worth £800 million over its lifetime and meant process 417,000 tonnes of residual waste a year. It never did and as such was closed down in 2020. Since then all Essex’s black bad waste has been sent to landfill.

Last year a £73million deal to continue sending waste to landfill until April 2024 was agreed by Essex County Council amid a fallout from the failed waste processing plant.

The council has now formally launched a tender for an initial seven-year deal worth £62 million per year for the disposal of 350,000 tonnes of residual waste per year.

That waste deal also comes against the backdrop the 595,000 tonne capacity Rivenhall energy from waste (EfW) facility expected to begin commissioning in early 2025 and be fully operational by the end of the same year.

A statement as part of a decision to drawdown money for a new strategy said: Essex County Council has a legal duty to ensure there is a Joint Waste Strategy in place that meets policy objectives and consult on the proposals that will be contained within the Strategy.

“As it stands Essex County Council’s current strategy is out of date and does not provide the required framework for future decisions.

“Adopting this option would mean that Essex County Council would develop the strategy with insufficient resources to ensure a robust and compliant approach is followed.

“This will significantly increase the likelihood of incorrect decisions being taken and the potential for a judicial review, resulting in huge reputational risk to the organisation due to a failed consultation process and increased costs.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter