Blog May 2016: Waste matters

Disposal of waste is a huge issue for our society. Most of us are aware, too often pungently, that here at the heart of our constituency, just to the east of Redhill, we have one of the largest, landfill waste sites in the UK, operated by Biffa Waste Services Ltd. 

This site can accept up to 750,000 tonnes of household, industrial and commercial waste per year. The oldest part of the site is now permanently capped and being restored with topsoil and grass. This area is engineered to extract landfill gas and turn it into renewable electrical energy which is sold to the National Grid. 

As well as the existing active landfill area, a separate soil treatment facility treats soils contaminated with hydrocarbons so that they can be reused for restoration of the landfill. 

The site is expected to continue managing waste up until around 2030.

It is unusual for such a site to be located so close to a large urban area. Biffa and the Environment Agency must ensure that the site causes the absolute minimum of inconvenience to local residents and the environment.

After the heavy rainfall of 2013-14, many of us were affected by the very unpleasant smell of landfill gas escaping from the waterlogged site and new measures were put in place to reduce gas emissions and prevent a recurrence. More recently, soil piles and digging equipment have been causing an unnecessary eyesore on the Redhill skyline, and I have been helping to ensure that planning restrictions affecting the visibility of site operations are adhered to.

As part of its obligations, Biffa provides a grants scheme, known as ‘Biffa Awards’ or ‘The Landfill Communities Fund’, with awards of between £10,000 and £50,000 to projects that support communities living in the vicinity of its Landfill sites. This is only fair to recompense our community for hosting the site.

Following the ‘Biffa Whiff’ period, the criteria were changed to encourage local schemes to benefit from the grants scheme.

Biffa Award grants are available to local projects that provide or improve biodiversity, community spaces, cultural facilities, and places for outdoor recreation but local schemes do need to apply.

Eligibility criteria for the Biffa Awards vary slightly depending on the project theme, but basic criteria include:

• The project's site is within 7 miles of a significant Biffa operation. 

• The project's site is also within 10 miles of any licensed landfill site 

• The total cost of the project is less than £200,000

• There are a minimum of 104 days of full public access to the project per year

• Grants are used for site-based improvement work, not for equipment or running costs

• Grants only apply for work that will take place in the future

• Applicants need to  match-fund 10% of value of the grant they are applying for

There is also a Small Grants Scheme for small projects with awards between £250 and £10,000. 

I strongly urge as many local eligible parties as possible to apply for funding from this scheme. Please do take advantage of it. It is the least Biffa owes our community.

For more information about Biffa Awards, please visit to http://www.biffa-award.org/