This is a hugely expensive undertaking
The NLWA’s documents show total waste costs for the approximate 30 year period being contemplated as being in the order of eight billion pounds. That’s equivalent to the all the costs associated with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The contracts for processing the waste alone are in the order of £4.7 bn.
At these levels it is crucial a need is proven and that best value is achieved. We have grave doubts on both.
You will pay
It may seem obvious but these enormous costs will fall on your shoulders if you are a resident or business in North London.
We calculate that a Council Tax paying resident will be forced to pay on average an extra £150 per annum on top of their current Council Tax bill.
You will pay even if there is no waste
Because financiers are demanding options on their pound of flesh the NLWA are entering into an agreement called a Minimum Guaranteed Tonnage (MGT). Council Tax payers will be forced to pay for producing a set level of waste for 30 years - even if that waste does not exist, what we term ”virtual waste”.
The MGT will ensure that the borrowing required to pay for the NLWA’s grand plans can be paid back and the financiers can take a handsome profit.
This may work in a world of rising waste and moderate increases in recycling so that there is always enough waste to meet the MGT. However in worlds (like our own) where waste levels are falling and recycling levels are rising we may well very quickly not have enough waste to “hand over”. Instead we will simply need to hand over cash. That is on top of the £8bn we will be committed to already. It would likely be at the expense of schools, old people’s homes and care, youth centres and such crucial services. Perversely it may mean we could not afford to pay street sweepers or encourage homeowners to recycle more.
Recycle or Not?
Stoke City Council fell into such a MGT trap and were recently served with a huge bill for non-existent waste. And you were probably thinking we had made up “virtual waste”.
Kent County Council told us how they wish they had looked ahead and not fallen into the same trap. Instead of signing over a cheque to meet their MGT they now send recyclable material (which could be sold for value to benefit Council Tax payers) to their waste plant (where they are charged for doing so) simply to satisfy their own MGT clause.
So do not expect a major result of the NLWA plans being the encouragement to recycle more; the implication is - don’t recycle, rather keep producing waste instead.
Could it happen here?
Put simply yes, and very possibly so.
In developing their ever changing forecasts for waste one thing the NLWA have been rigorously consistent on is in showing future waste levels as increasing.
One think real life has rigorously been revealing is that waste levels are constantly falling.
Eventually we run out of waste to meet the MGT and at that stage you need to open your wallet or purse (or possibly both since this is an expensive project).
On the other side the NLWA do show an increase in recycling levels – they need to, they have been told to do so by the Mayor amongst others. But they have not targeted recycling levels to increase as fast as these targets would like. That may be because all their investment is planned to go towards processing non-recyclable waste rather than helping businesses and residents to reduce the amount of waste they produce in the first place.
At a current recycling level of about 30% we are far behind equivalent cities such as San Francisco (82%) or Tokyo (73%). Worse, we fall well behind a Borough not very far away - Harrow - at 51%. A Shadow Minister recently indicated an incoming Labour Government may set a recycling target equivalent to that applying to Scotland and Wales - at 70%.
So again we would run out of waste and you would need to open up your wallet (or purse) for all the waste you are not producing.
But in our world waste is going down AND recycling is going up so everything is speeded up; the call on your wallet (or purse) for more that is. We calculate the possibility is you could be paying for “virtual waste” as early as 2017.
It would be like being sent to prison for obeying the law.