Money generated by Peterborough City Council from selling energy has increased by £500,000, but a large chunk of this is being eaten up by rising recycling costs.
The council yesterday released its latest set of budget proposals to tackle its remaining deficit of £8.2 million following huge cuts to its main government grant.
Environmental policies in the budget include:
Pollution control - £120,000 cost a year
The council said its Environmental Health Pollution Control team is low cost currently when compared to other authorities, accounting for £2 per head of population compared to a national average of £7.
It said its team’s workload has risen in line with the city’s growth and it now needs to recruit two additional full time members of staff.
By appointing two more people to the team, it will help ensure the council can continue to meet its legal obligations both now and in future years.
Trees - £250,000 cost a year
The council wants to categorise its tree stock, with trees that pose more of a risk inspected more regularly than the current three yearly period.
In addition, the council proposes to increase its insurance spend.
Recycling - £300,000 cost a year
The council said the cost of recycling has increased.
Energy from waste - £500,000 saving a year
The council can sell energy from the Energy Recovery Facility which it owns.
Recent power prices have been higher than experienced in previous years, and this coupled with increased and steady generation has led to additional income for the council.
The facility is managed by Viridor Peterborough Limited.
Green Party councillor Julie Howell said: “We note that the Energy Recovery Facility is generating income. Peterborough Green Party strongly opposed the plant at the planning stage on environmental grounds (air pollution; requires a waste stream to maintain a continuous burn; produces concentrated toxic residues; destroys rather than re-uses waste).
“We would like to see an environmental cost benefit analysis of the ERF’s performance to date, including data on particulate emissions and quantity of residue sent to which final destinations.”
She added: “We strongly welcome the proposal to categorise the council’s tree stock so that trees deemed to present a risk are inspected more regularly.
“We believe the public is confused over the council’s commitment to recycling. While the wording of the proposal suggests that the council is only interested in recycling as a potential income stream, we know very well how deeply residents care about recycling.
“It is a statutory duty for a very good reason and we urge the council to improve its recycling rates as a matter or priority.
“We strongly support expenditure on the Environmental Health Pollution Control Team. Peterborough residents have become understandably cynical about the council’s commitment to becoming an environmental capital and pollution control is an essential aspect of this.”
Members of the public can have their say on the budget proposals by completing an online consultation questionnaire at www.peterborough.gov.uk/budget.
Hard copies of the budget proposals document and questionnaire will be available at Town Hall and Bayard Place receptions and in each of the city’s libraries by the formal launch of the consultation at 9am on Monday, January 28.
The consultation will close on March 4 at 5pm. The Cabinet will consider comments on Monday, February 25 and Full Council will debate the proposals on Wednesday, March 6.