Big Eye, November 24, 2015

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Feel free to yawn and turn the page rapidly if this week’s diatribe seems a little ‘old hat’ but I’m afraid one of the windmills I can’t resist tilting at is our old friend, Norfolk’s Waste The spectre of the ever-increasing rubbish mountain has made the news again. It appears that the perennial problem of trying to figure out what to do with all the stuff we don’t want has made it onto the county council’s agenda again.

This time, their brainstorming session has conjured up the idea of carting all the unrecyclable waste to Dutch or German incinerators for the next four years. Yep, it seems these two nations are entirely happy to charge us a fee to burn this material on their sovereign soil without so much as a bleat. Both countries are much more environmentally savvy than the grubby old UK but seem entirely comfortable with setting fire to 600,000t of our nappies and yogurt cartons or whatever goes as landfill now. It sounds like a cracking deal and if it’s going to save us around £8 million over the next four years I’d be surprised if anyone could possibly object (unless you’re German or Dutch).

But, it seems, one group who’ve been as silent as the grave since our own incinerator got binned have awakened from their slumbers to object to this initiative as well. They don’t want anything burned anywhere, any time, ever and although they don’t offer a viable alternative they are more than happy, I assume, to continue with the status-quo and see the waste tipped into pits and buried under a nice soft blanket of earth..out of sight and out of mind.

What’s hard to understand is why, with foreign incinerators offering a deal that will save us money they didn’t explore this option before we threw £30 million down the plughole on the Saddlebow scheme. Councillor Coke, chairman of the committee responsible for (among other things) the environment claims this interim deal will allow the county to re-evaluate and consider other new technologies that might be applicable to the Norfolk problem. Every aspect of our short and long-term plans for dealing with the stuff we shove into the bin and forget revolves around processing it after the event! The ‘event’ being our unbelievable ability to create waste and rubbish where there is absolutely no need to be any.

There’s enough technology out there to change the way we live our lives and all it needs is for someone with enough determination to apply some 21st Century logic to this problem. If you were charged by the kilo for generating waste and credited for the stuff you recycled there’d be a whole new attitude to what you put into your bins and what you leave in the foyer at Tescbury’s.

In the meantime we’ll burn this useless waste in Holland and give ourselves, as Toby Coke says, “a breathing space”… couldn’t make it up!